Scaife, Trib defy skeptics
I can't claim to have known Dick Scaife well, but his love of newspapers enabled me to travel a remarkable journey.
During an era in which most newspapers dramatically downsized or even folded, Scaife essentially built one from scratch. I've been around the entire time, watching a fledgling operation with a shaky future evolve into what recently was judged to be Pennsylvania's finest newspaper.
In January 1993, I began working as one of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's first reporters. The upstart operation, which began as a response to the strike that triggered the demise of The Pittsburgh Press, had an initial staff of about eight.
Our task was formidable. Out of a small office building in Station Square, we competed against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which had perhaps 200 reporters and editors and a veteran presence in the city.
No one knew how long this journalism experiment would last. The late John G. Craig Jr., the P-G editor at the time, ran into our city editor shortly after our start-up and predicted we would be out of business in six months. Craig considered himself an astute fellow, but he made the one unforgiveable error in battle: Never underestimate your opponent.
We worked long hours practicing what we called “guerrilla journalism.” The scoops started to come, readership gradually increased and so did our staff size. With the arrival of reinforcements, our Station Square office began to seem cramped.
Any doubts about Scaife's commitment to making the Trib a permanent Pittsburgh presence were erased in 1997. He wouldn't have dropped $42 million on a new printing plant if he had any plans to pull the plug.
The day Newsworks opened in Warrendale, I couldn't help wonder what Craig was thinking.
Most of us had little personal contact with Scaife, but he did send us birthday cards and occasional personalized notes when he particularly liked a story.
Having outgrown our modest Station Square accommodations, the Trib moved to the. D.L. Clark Building on the North Shore in 1999. Shortly thereafter, I became a columnist. In the nearly 15 years since then, I have on many occasions expressed views contrary to the paper's editorial position. Not once did I hear Scaife was upset with anything I wrote.
I reflected on this remarkable journey in April, when the Trib was named the best daily newspaper in Pennsylvania by the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Three weeks later, Scaife announced he was terminally ill.
Hours after his death on Friday, I was in a store in my neighborhood that I frequent often.
“You work for the Trib, don't you?” the cashier said as she rang up my purchase.
“I'm sorry about your publisher,” she said.
So am I.
Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Farmers fund research on gluten-free wheat
- Pitt’s Amara offers Vision of hope
- Pirates pitchers finding success with expanded strike zone
- This collector wields Power of the Pens
- Penguins notebook: Johnston stays with team despite mother’s death
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Penguins minor league notebook: WBS players eager for possible NHL playoff call-up
- Alvarez latest in Pirates’ revolving door at first base
- Probiotic bacteria help conquer ‘superbugs’