The Incline

Founding Editor

July 2016 – February 2019 ・ Pittsburgh, Pa.

After envying the work of Billy Penn, I jumped at the chance to build Spirited Media’s second local news site and launched The Incline on Sept. 13, 2016.

I worked a lot.

Every day started with a standing SCRUM meeting where each team member discussed what they were working on and what they needed help with. As a group, we discussed the conversation of the day and how The Incline would tackle it. Five scrappy journalists made a splash because we were deliberate about each tweet, each story. We punched above our weight.

As the editor, I lead and executed editorial and audience development strategies and experiments with agile methodology. I hired and managed a staff of reporters, photojournalists and freelancers and created and maintained a style guide and corrections page. I launched our membership program. I also focused heavily on day-to-day operations, crafting social media posts, interacting with our audience, and editing stories and our popular newsletter.

Every day was fun and challenging, a hustle to prove ourselves in a crowded market: We made the city more accessible and understandable to Pittsburghers and built an essential news product.

Before the site was sold to Whereby.Us in early 2019, I accepted a job with The Philadelphia Inquirer. Here’s more about what I did at The Incline.

News

Covered and planned response to Tree of Life massacre, police shooting of Antwon Rose II, and local and national elections

Edited news, feature and sports articles

Wrote SEO-friendly (and not horrible) headlines

Developed stories with reporters, photographers, designers and freelancers

Collaborated with other news outlets

  • HuffPost and The Incline worked on the Listen To America tour to determine “What the driverless vehicles of tomorrow mean for today’s Pittsburgh workers.”
  • 90.5 WESA and The Incline partnered on a live mayoral debate ahead of the 2017 election.
  • Report For America selected The Incline and Billy Penn to host one of its 2018 editorial fellows to cover Pennsylvania’s state government.
  • 100 Days of Appalachia supported an The Incline project on food deserts, after placing in its Pittsburgh Pitch competition.
  • The Incline is PolitiFact’s Pennsylvania partner.
  • Local television, including KDKA-TV and WTAE, and 90.5 WESA

Membership & Revenue

Implemented The Incline’s membership program in early 2018

Created member drives and timely asks with News Revenue Hub

Attended Facebook Membership Accelerator

Worked with sales and events staff to host profitable events

“Their membership perk is the journalism. The idea is, you can’t get anything else like it in the city, and beyond that, if you get a membership, yes, we have laptop stickers, yes, we have happy hours. But that’s not why people join.”
— Neiman Lab, Aug. 2018

Audience Development

Oversaw daily newsletter production and social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

Redesigned daily newsletter to convey values

Utilized Google Analytics and Parse.ly to track values-based goals and Crowdtangle to follow local trends

Created audience-driven reporting projects and templates for other network sites to implement best practices

  • Since self-driving car companies in Pittsburgh won’t disclose testing locations, we’ve asked readers to tell The Incline when and where they’ve spotted the technology, so reporters could map self-driving cars and break stories about the companies interactions with the community.
  • Peculiar Pittsburgh, powered by Hearken, allows readers to ask questions about Pittsburgh and have reporters investigate the answers.
  • Who’s Next highlights under-40 professionals in Pittsburgh through reader nominations via Google Forms, culminating in a networking happy hour.
  • Brackets seeking reader nominations and voting through Google Forms have helped build our newsletter list.

Incline Awards

Biggest blockbuster story: Newsletter subscriptions and pageviews, Hearken’s Champions of Curiosity Awards: ‘What’s up with the monkey balls?’ The story of Pittsburgh’s weirdest tree

First Place Golden Quill, The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania: Lifestyle, Digital, Eating the Turnpike: All of Pennsylvania’s 15 East-West Rest Stops, Ranked

First Place Golden Quill, The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania: Continuing Blog: Four One Brew

Pittsburgh Black Media Federation Vann Award, online business news: Meet the woman behind Black Tech Nation in Pittsburgh

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It’s 6 a.m. and theincline.com just went live. (Photo by Jasmine Goldband)
Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 10.02.59 PM
Year 1 took 3 planners.
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