About the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, or PINJ, exists to provide coverage that focuses on enterprising and unique criminal and social justice stories in Western Pennsylvania.

Our mission is to fill gaps created by shrinking news staff at area media outlets. PINJ supports and provides mutual aid to existing community publications, and works to collaborate with new writers committed to civic-engagement initiatives.

We worked to transform an alternative weekly, advertising-funded news organization into a nonprofit newsroom equipped to cover issues other media outlets do not have the staff or funding to cover. This project has been built on sweat equity since early 2020. We are small, but we provide coverage of Western Pennsylvania with long-term and long form enterprise writing and reporting.

PINJ has investigated and reported stories that have been recognized both nationally and regionally: the uncounted deaths and lack of accountability of prisoners who died following their incarceration in the Allegheny County Jail. 

In 2023, PINJ and Penn Live were funded by the Pulitzer Center to create a database which will track jail deaths in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

For its jail coverage PINJ has won Best Investigation in Division 3 at the Western Pennsylvania Press Club in the 59th Golden Quills Awards, Best Investigation for Small Division in the national 2022 Nonprofit News Awards, Honorable Mention for Division 1 Best Investigation in the statewide awards by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and Best-of-Show, the Ray Sprigle Memorial Award, in Western Pennsylvania Press Club’s 2022 Golden Quills competition.

Allegheny v Hailer, our public records request turned court case, is our effort to make autopsies public in Allegheny county and beyond. PINJ is represented by Paula Knudsen Burke and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In 2022, we broke other stories that had a direct impact, including PINJ’s investigation into a doctor contracted with the Allegheny County Jail who lost his medical license in several states. The doctor was fired from Allegheny Health Network minutes after our publication.

PINJ is made possible by a partnership with our fiscal sponsor The Alternative News Foundation. PINJ accepts individual donations and grants. This organization does not accept donations connected to any type of editorial control.

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. At PINJ, we avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived and disclose unavoidable conflicts. We do not pay for access to news. We accept anonymous donations only for general operation funds. View the Alternative News Foundation Guidestar profile here.

Our funders include the Pulitzer Center, Grable Foundation, Google News Equity Fund, Pittsburgh Media Partnership and the Education Writers Association. We are grateful for the support.

Visit our Board of Directors here.

If you believe an error is present in PINJ reporting, please contact Director Brittany Hailer at Brittany@pinjnews.org. Any corrections, clarifications or changes to stories will be updated and noted at the bottom of the story page.

Advocating for accommodations has been a constant, but largely quiet, struggle for college students with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990.

Read our first series, Leveling the Playing Field, here.

The PINJ Team

Jody DiPerna

Editor, Founder

Jody DiPerna is an award winning journalist who has been chronicling life, history and literature in Western Pennsylvania for more than 15 years. She was a senior writer for the Pittsburgh Current and has written for Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Tribune Review and the Pittsburgh Quarterly, as well as several national outlets.

Email: leftfielddiperna@gmail.com

Brittany Hailer

Director, Founder

Brittany Hailer is an investigative journalist with a focus on incarceration and mental health. She is a Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a 2022-2023 Fellow for the Law and Justice Journalism Project. Her work has been funded by The Pulitzer Center and Pittsburgh Media Partnership.

Her work has appeared in Sierra Club Magazine, NPR, Longform, Spotlight Pa, PublicSource and elsewhere.

Her memoir Animal You’ll Surely Become was published by Tolsun Books in 2018.

Email: brittany@pinjnews.org