PublicSource is a leading investigative news organization, providing Pennsylvania citizens with in-depth information. We write stories to explain complex issues and to hold the powerful accountable because we believe that informed voters are the key to a democratic society. We provide citizens with in-depth reporting and data on the environment, health, criminal justice and money and politics.
We are independent and write stories that cultivate informed communities in Pennsylvania; we strive to empower citizens by providing them with information they cannot get elsewhere. That information allows them to make choices that they believe will have a positive impact on society and make the state they live in better.
PublicSource values research and analysis of critical issues that affect the lives of residents, providing access to data and exposing breaches of public trust.
Our investigative journalism focuses on serving those who may not have the platform or power to address the issues we report on. In addition, we train young journalists to be in-depth reporters.
We are a newsroom free from partisan political influences.
We approach every story with our ethical statement in mind and strive to be fair and accurate in all our coverage.
Our content is distributed by dozens of media partners throughout the state online, in print and on the air.
PublicSource is a non-profit organization. We received our initial funding through grants from The Pittsburgh Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
PublicSource is currently supported by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The R.K. Mellon Foundation, The Hillman Foundation, The Colcom Foundation, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The George Polk Grants for Investigative Reporting and the The Fund for Investigative Journalism.
We began our operation in July 2011 and published our first story in November of that year.
Editorial Independence Policy
We subscribe to INN’s standards of editorial independence as follows:
Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We will maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.
We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.
Our organization also may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.
Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $1,000 or more. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN’s Membership Standards.
PublicSource has adopted the ethics policy of the Society of Professional Journalists to guide us in our interactions with news sources and the public. It appears here.
Mila Sanina is the executive director of PublicSource.
Mila was previously the deputy managing editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she led innovation in storytelling and integration of print and online operations. Before joining the Post-Gazette, Mila worked at The PBS Newshour and CNN International.
Mila is originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but Pittsburgh owns her heart.
She has a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Halle Stockton is the managing editor of PublicSource.
Halle was a staff writer at the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune for four years before joining PublicSource in February 2012. The Erie, Pa., native is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where she served as managing editor of The Daily Collegian.
Halle has won several awards for her journalism; most notably, she was named a 2016 finalist for the prestigious Livingston Awards for Young Journalists for a series on psychotropic drugs prescribed to juvenile offenders. She was honored in 2015 with a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for a story about a couple who both have cerebral palsy. In 2007, she won the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s national writing championship.
Some of her favorite activities include fishing, hiking, cuddling with her standard schnauzer, Dexter, and watching Star Trek. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh.
Feel free to contact Halle with story tips and ideas, questions or concerns.
Natasha Khan does web development and produces digital content for PublicSource. She manages the site and works with reporters to create graphics and multimedia content to make their stories more engaging for readers. She previously worked as PublicSource’s environmental reporter for three years. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she graduated with a master’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in Phoenix where she specialized in multimedia coverage of border issues and politics.
While at ASU, she won several awards, including the top student prize for an in-depth project from the Society of Professional Journalists for her work on an expansive election fraud database during the 2012 presidential election.
Recently, she was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Cronkite School and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to use mobile air sensors to study pollution near shale gas sites.
In 2014, she was awarded first place in the enterprise/investigative category from the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association for a data story she co-wrote about the state’s shoddy recordkeeping for amusement ride inspection reports.
She has been published in The Washington Post, NBC.com and The Sacramento Bee.
Jeffrey Benzing is a reporter for PublicSource focusing on criminal justice and public safety.
He previously covered foreign bribery and corporate crime at Main Justice in Washington, D.C.
Originally from Texas, he reported on local politics, public safety and business in the Texas Hill Country for the Fredericksburg Standard Radio-Post. His writing and photography earned him first-place honors from the West Texas Press Association.
As a journalism graduate student at the University of Maryland, he covered the state’s congressional delegation, examined juvenile justice in Baltimore and helped report and write an award-winning package on salmonella in poultry that appeared in The Washington Post.
In his down time, Jeff enjoys playing and listening to music (and finding old records), reading fiction and exploring the city.
Chrystal Walsh is the development director for PublicSource focused on building the financial sustainability of the news group from foundation grants, to membership and individual gifts, and corporate support and sponsorships.
A fundraising professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience, previously she worked at Family Services of Western Pennsylvania. Chrystal fundraised for the statewide chapter of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania during the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. She lived for a decade in California and worked for Venice Family Clinic, KQED Public Broadcasting, and Mother Jones Magazine.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Health Management & Policy from the University of New Hampshire, Durham.
Originally from Mattapoisett, MA, Chrystal spends her free time with her husband, a native of Ligonier, PA, and their two children. She enjoys time outdoors and volunteers with R.K. Mellon Elementary School Parent Teacher Association.
Mary Niederberger is a longtime Pittsburgh-area journalist who started
her career with a decade at The Pittsburgh Press. After freelancing and teaching at local universities for several years, she joined the staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she spent 18 years covering community news, general assignment and education. Her work has taken her to nearly every community in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, and her stories in recent years have focused on education issues, specifically under-resourced schools and the students they serve.
She received the Golden Quill Award for education coverage from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She is also the recipient of the Robert L. Vann Award of Excellence for investigative/enterprise reporting from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation in 2011 and 2015. Also in 2015, Mary and a colleague from the Post-Gazette received first place in the Pennsylvania Society of of Professional Journalist Spotlight Awards for their coverage of the ghost job held by the state’s special adviser on higher education. Mary holds a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and is a
lifelong Pittsburgh-area resident.
J. Dale Shoemaker is a reporter for PublicSource concentrating on city government and data analysis. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a former PublicSource intern.
Prior to joining the team here, he covered local and breaking news in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pa., as an intern for The Morning Call. Originally from Duncansville, Pa., he also covered environmental news as an intern for The Allegheny Front and was the managing editor of The Pitt News, Pitt’s daily and independent student newspaper. While writing for The Pitt News, he earned a Student Keystone Press Award for his profile of Ophelia Ferguson, a popular cashier on campus. And in May 2015, he was awarded a Heinz Endowment Grant to pursue his internship at The Allegheny Front.
Guy Wathen is a visual storyteller for PublicSource.
He was a multimedia journalist at the Tribune-Review for 16 years before joining PublicSource in January 2017. The Louisville, Ky., native is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where he earned degrees in anthropology and photojournalism.
Guy’s images and videos have borne witness to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, presidential elections, riots, the Quecreek Mine rescue, a mass-shooting at an Amish schoolhouse and countless moments that shape the lives of everyday people. His work often focuses on human tragedy and triumph and has been honored by several organizations including Time, the National Press Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International, and The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which nominated him for four Emmys and presented him with two in 2016.
The Wilkinsburg resident is an avid scuba diver who enjoys food, music, nature and travel in his free time. Guy’s underwater adventures have taken him to Belize and the Galapagos Islands and he hopes to plan more trips in the near future.
Please feel free to contact Guy with any story ideas and concerns or tips for where to find good BBQ north of the Mason-Dixon line.
James N. Crutchfield, President
James is a long-time newspaper editor and publisher who started his career at the Pittsburgh Press. He is also a trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation board.
Josie Cellone, Secretary
Josie is a former journalist, newly minted entrepreneur and multimedia producer.
Zak Thomas, Treasurer
Zak is Senior Program Officer for Community Development and Lending for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. He is also an attorney and the co-founder of The Chuck Cooper Foundation.
Jennie Liska is a Senior Manager in Accenture’s Management Consulting practice.
Maggie Patterson is a tenured professor of journalism at Duquesne University and the author of several books.
Jonathan Potts, M.S., is the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at Robert Morris University.
Guhan Venkatu is vice president and senior regional officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Sharon Walsh is the retired founding editor of PublicSource.