Bob Pinarski is no stranger to the media industry. He’s spent the last three decades contributing to local media organizations across the northeastern part of the country. Now, as the Observer-Reporter’s new general manager, Pinarski hopes to make a lasting impression in Washington while guiding the local media franchise through the industry’s next phase.
“There will always be a need for local media coverage,” he said. “We may change the way our products look and are distributed, but the need for hyperlocal news coverage will never go away. After 30 years, I’m committed to this, and I believe that our media franchise will be around for the next 100 years.”
We recently sat down with Pinarski to talk more about his background, his admiration for the Observer-Reporter and his plans for the paper’s future.
What drew you to the Observer-Reporter?
I’ve always respected and followed the Observer-Reporter and the Northrop family’s commitment to serving their community. They are the beacon of what a local media company should aspire to. The O-R plays a vital role in enhancing the Washington community, whether through philanthropic initiatives, sponsorships or events. I could work for any local newspaper, but the O-R is different. It’s one of the few local community papers that go above and beyond, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
As you reflect on the previous ownership, are
there any initiatives that you plan to maintain?
The Northrops have a long history as a newspaper family in Pennsylvania. I’ve always been impressed by what the O-R was doing and accomplishing. They’ve always been innovative and on the cutting-edge for a local media company. I’ve also always respected their philanthropic mission and their effort to help the community. Ogden Newspapers has the same mission. We want to follow in the Northrops’ tradition of being a relevant, trustworthy watchdog for the community.
You’ve held many positions within the industry. How have those positions prepared you for your role in Washington?
Over the last 30 years, I’ve worked at large and small papers. Some have been family-owned. Prior to coming to the O-R, I was the publisher at the Herald-Standard in Uniontown, which is also owned by Ogden Newspapers. I started there in 2012. I initially got my start in the industry in advertising and worked my way up. I have experience as a marketing director, advertising director and director of sales. I see an opportunity in Washington to help the small-business community. I feel our portfolio of products and services can do just that. Washington has a lot of small, family-owned businesses, and I want to help them succeed. I want to see Washington thrive.
How did a Midwesterner end up
calling Western Pennsylvania home?
I grew up just outside of Chicago, in Hammond, Ind., and started my career in Chicagoland after graduating from Marquette University in 1990. In the early 2000s, I got an opportunity to work at the Erie Times-News, in Erie. During my time at the paper, my family and I fell in love with Western Pennsylvania and its natural beauty. We were also drawn to the area’s diversity with its people and culture, as well as the proximity to numerous metropolitan areas. After a while, I was recruited to work for a paper in Memphis, Tenn., but I realized that I missed the area. So I took the next opportunity to come back here, which was with the Herald-Standard. My family wasn’t able to join me right away, and the paper had an apartment across the street from the office, so I lived at the paper two years before moving to Peters Township with my family.
What does the Observer-Reporter’s future look like?
The Observer-Reporter is stronger than ever, especially now that the paper is tied to Ogden Newspapers. We have access to more resources and have become more financially secure. The Observer-Reporter is here to stay. Our franchise is never going to die. Over time, what we look like may change, but we will never go away. We serve an important role in the community as a watchdog, but we’re more than that. More importantly, we’re investing in the community and helping local businesses grow and succeed. We’re introducing the Washington Area Business Incubator in conjunction with Washington & Jefferson College, which will provide rent-free office space and guidance to young entrepreneurs. We’re really looking forward to getting that opened next fall. We are also launching the Be Local Network to educate the community on the importance of shopping and investing locally.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy spending time remodeling my home in Peters Township, spending time with family and traveling to see my three adult sons, who live across the country.