Wimbley announces resignation as Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president; also leaving Post-Gazette for new position at Colorado Public Radio
Denver, Colorado, must be the place to be these days.
Just days after Super Bowl-winning quarterback (and husband of R&B superstar Ciara) Russell Wilson was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos, the New Pittsburgh Courier has learned exclusively that Lacretia Wimbley, the award-winning features reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, announced her resignation as Guild president and is moving to Denver as a justice reporter for Colorado Public Radio (90.1 FM).
Wimbley’s final day as president of the Guild is Sunday, March 13. Ed Blazina, a Post-Gazette transportation reporter and first vice president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, will assume the presidency on Monday, March 14.
Wimbley’s final day at the Post-Gazette, where she currently serves as a features reporter, is undetermined. Her start date at Colorado Public Radio is June 1.
“I think it’s time,” Wimbley, who is African American, told the Courier of her impending move to Denver. “I think I’ve served and given all that I could give to the Post-Gazette and our union at this point.”
Wimbley, 29, has performed a variety of duties since joining the Post-Gazette in May 2016. She’s been a member of the copy editing team, which also included designing pages for the PG’s print and e-editions, worked as a breaking news reporter, and gave live updates on upcoming PG stories on KDKA-TV for a year and a half.
“I’ve had the great opportunity to cover a wide range of stories — cops and crime, to courts; I’ve cried with mothers who lost their sons to gun violence; I’ve sat in the back of courtrooms with my notepad and covered trials about officer-involved shootings; I’ve been on the ground (covering) protests with the community,” Wimbley told the Courier. “I’ve never been to Colorado, but I think this is an amazing opportunity I couldn’t let pass me up.”
Wimbley feels she’s leaving the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in a better position than she found it. The Guild hasn’t been able to secure a contract with the Post-Gazette since the last contract expired in March 2017, nor has its union members received a pay raise from the PG in 15 years. But Wimbley said during her tenure as president, she helped change the tone and culture of the Guild.
“I had to speak hope and bring people together again to not give up on the union,” Wimbley said.
Wimbley said some union members thought she was “crazy” for running for Guild president as a general member, someone who held no prior executive position within the Guild.
“I’m crazy in the sense of, I am a very passionate person and I’m an extreme visionary where I have the ability to see the whole picture,” Wimbley told the Courier. “And I think that’s a good quality in a leader.”
Wimbley was elected Guild president on Jan. 25, 2021.
Wimbley told the Courier some of her accomplishments as Guild president included establishing a digital system for collecting union dues from members, hiring a third-party consultant who assessed and evaluated the culture of the Guild and identified areas of improvement inside the newsroom, and proposing mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all local Guild officers. Additionally, the Guild in November 2021 won a court battle over the PG’s non-compliance in paying employee health care coverage increases in 2018. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh was awarded more than $100,000 in reimbursement money.
“It’s sad and ridiculous that the company would rather spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting us. Now they have been forced to pay what they should have paid to begin with, and it has cost them much more than it would have to simply do the right thing,” Wimbley said in a statement after the court ruling. “Our union has been through so much the last several years due to egregious actions by BCI (Block Communications Inc.). Victory has never tasted so sweet, and this is only the beginning.”
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh represents around 100 unionized journalists at the PG and around 120 full-time faculty professors at Point Park University.
Wimbley’s soon-to-be departure from the Post-Gazette means one less African American editorial member at the city’s largest news operation. African American reporters/columnists at the PG currently include Tony Norman and Tim Grant. Other Black staffers include: Willa Kindle (deputy managing producer/digital); Natalie Hill (content editor); Nate Guidry (photographer); David Garth (managing editor/editing and standards); Paul Zeise (sports columnist); Rick Nowlin (news assistant); and Isaac Elster (digital news editor).
Many public radio organizations are expanding its newsroom operations as the for-profit newspaper industry has declined in size and impact in recent years. In her new role as a justice reporter for Colorado Public Radio (CPR), Wimbley will report on the issues affecting the Denver-area’s underserved communities. It’s a new challenge for Wimbley, as she’ll be writing stories as well as voicing reports that will air on CPR. It’s her first job at a radio station.
“As a reporter, we have a duty to be objective, but naturally, I just have a nose and an instinct for these types of stories,” Wimbley, a Jackson, Miss., native, told the Courier. “This is important to me because it’s what I love to do. I’m passionate about people in general.”
Wimbley said her mantra is, “giving the community an authentic voice in my stories. I plan to bring that to Denver.”