THE GREENE SPEAK STORY UPDATED
CINDY BAILEY, EDITOR & PUBLISHER
99 S. Washington St., Waynesburg,
P. O. Box 1003
Waynesburg, PA 15370
BUSINESS PH: 724-344-7980
[May 2006 marked our 2nd Anniversary, and we published the following story in our print edition].
little newspaper that could
GreeneSpeak accumulates 18 statewide awards, several thousand new readers, and a reputation
for ‘telling it like it is’ in two short years
WAYNESBURG--You might call it “The Little Newspaper that Could.” GreeneSpeak,
published and edited by Cindy Bailey of Waynesburg, marks its second anniversary this month, having gone from a 12-page publication
with a circulation of less than 1,000 to the current product consisting of 24 pages and a still-growing circulation upwards
The free, tabloid-size, monthly newspaper is available in multiple copies to any Greene County business or
agency and is now carried by more than 50 outlets.
“It’s been quite a ride launching this newspaper,” Bailey said. “After
being shut out of my former job as editor two and a half years ago for my propensity to ‘tell it like it is,’ I wasn’t sure
what lay ahead.”
Yet the encouragement began pouring in . “I received numerous e-mails and letters from readers who
believed I was speaking the truth when I described much of Greene County politics as oppressive and stifling to our economic
growth and destructive to our natural environment,” she said. “I was really humbled when people said they appreciated my drive,
determination, and integrity. People began to ask me to start my own paper.”
Within a month of losing her position,
Bailey launched www.greenespeak.com. The popularity of the site gave her the impetus to launch the print version a few months
later. Every front page contains the tag line, “Free Speech still lives in Greene County, Pa.”
“I think of it as a
sort of memorial statement to remind myself and my readers that we have to fight for our First Amendment rights everyday,”
she said. “I wanted readers and advertisers alike to know that GreeneSpeak would not sway with the current political winds.”
However, an unofficial e-mail campaign, designed to blackball Bailey, was unfolding. Additionally, a former colleague and
at least one public official tried to have GreeneSpeak Publications removed from the local chamber. Then a letter writing
campaign was launched to keep GreeneSpeak out of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA).
“I had known from the
start that I was choosing the narrow road, but these people were really tenacious,” she says. “Still, every new attack on
my character only validated the reason I launched the paper in the first place, and the officials at the PNA were wonderful
about the whole thing.”
Even with all that noise in the background, Bailey was publishing a newspaper which shed light
on social and environmental injustice; supported military families and veterans; boosted nonprofit organizations; and constantly
reminded public officials in Greene County that GreeneSpeak was watching.
Soon, she found herself in a position to
mentor a growing stable of local writers, who now contribute articles and columns in their chosen fields. “Readers tell me
they love the variety of subjects and styles that my writers provide every month,” she said.
GreeneSpeak writers are:
Candice Buchanan of Waynesburg, Certified Genealogist; Julieann Wozniak of Bobtown, self-described “techie”; Randy Wilkins
of Waynesburg, news correspondent; Brian King of Waynesburg, pharmacist; Roxane Palone of Kirby, PA Game Commissioner; Cornerstone
Care Health Center staff; Dr. Bob Randolph, pastor and college English teacher; Jennifer Lis of Pitcairn, free-lance food
writer, and John Enci of Carmichaels, photographer and veterans liaison.
The advertising base has continued to grow
steadily, as well, including many local small businesses and numerous nonprofit and educational organizations.
18 editions of GreeneSpeak have earned 18 statewide awards, including a PA National Guard Center of Influence Medal for outstanding
support of Company C during their first deployment two years ago.
Last year’s top awards included a First Place Keystone
Press Award for local history stories and First Place from the PA Women’s Press Association for editorials.
month, Bailey was informed that she had won four First Place Awards and three lesser awards from the PA Women’s Press Club
(PWPA), the state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women. The cumulative score for those awards netted Bailey
the Pa. Press Club's 2006 Sweepstakes Award,
The first place awards were for: page design, editing, her “Cindy’s Wind”
columns, and environmental stories, including “Mr. Governor, we want our lake back,” and the GreeneSpeak “Hall of Shame.”
These stories will be now entered into the national competition.
Additionally, the Duke Lake story earned a Second Place
Keystone Press Award, and two editorials took a Third from the PWPA.
“I was pleased that ‘Cindy’s Wind’ was recognized
by my female colleagues,” she said. “‘The World According to Grandma’ was about my mother and ‘The Crusher,” starred my baby
niece. I guess it showed that these are two of the most important people in my life.”
Bailey’s take on Greene County
politics, especially “The Wet Hen,” is popular with readers. “They loved it when I published ‘Wee, wee all the way home’ about
the legislative pay raise debacle....Readers also tell me they felt vindicated when I referred to Bill DeWeese as ‘Dollar
Bill’ on my website.”
“Readers also enjoy my Open Records pieces,” she said. “I am still hearing comments about the
‘Who owns Waynesburg?’ article I did way back in August. I editorialized that our assessment records be made public online.”
Her various series, which have tongue-in-cheek titles, usually strike a chord with people, such as the “Hall of Shame,” the
“Greene Scream,” the “Greene Onion Award,” and the annual “Chums & Bums” list.
One of the most popular features of GreeneSpeak
is “Can you spot SPOT?” The “watchdog of the First Amendment,” Spot is a cartoon character based on the Bailey family’s Jack
Russell terrier named Daisy. “People tell me they don’t read a word until they find all the places Spot is hiding,” she says.
The newspaper is really a family affair. In addition to her own work, husband Bob helps with marketing and ad sales. Once
printed, GreeneSpeak is delivered all over Greene County by Bailey, her husband, and her sister-in-law Sharon Bailey. Additionally,
daughter Julie, 17, takes photos from time to time and 14-year-old Annie creates the word puzzle.
Bailey’s mom, Lucille,
keeps an eagle eye on the supply of papers in the grocery stores. Father-in-law Chester uses word-of-mouth to market the paper
everywhere he goes.
GreeneSpeak’s finest moment in 2005 came when Bailey learned that her pithy publication had been
officially voted into the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, despite her detractors’ early efforts.
“You know, there
are still local media people who refuse to recognize me as a serious investigative journalist or GreeneSpeak as a real, locally
owned and produced newspaper, but my readers couldn’t care less,” she said. “What they care about is Greene County news and
views, and that happens to be what we do best. Besides, everybody loves an underdog, and that seems to be my lot in life.”
ON THE RED, WHITE, & BLUE
This is my (slightly edited) 'famous' farewell letter, circulated in January 2004. It tells
the story of how efforts to silence me by local politicians and others only served to provide me a platform from which to
launch GreeneSpeak Publications.
‘The truth shall set you free….’
Greene County, Pennsylvania is no longer
part of America
Having lived in Greene County, Pa. all my life, it devastates me to report that Free Speech is virtually
dead there as of Jan. 7, 2004. That’s the day I was forced to resign from my position (or be terminated) as editor of the
Greene County Messenger in Waynesburg.
Apparently, my former employers had nothing on me, so they gave me a severance
package and did not challenge my unemployment.
I am now convinced that politics here—in particular, the Democratic machine—are
mightier than the Bill of Rights.
After more than three years of writing stories, editorials, and columns which have been
digging beneath the surface, like the longwalls which at this very moment are cutting away lives and land, I was forced to
resign my position with no explanation and no notice. My publisher didn’t even want me to remove my personal effects. In fact,
he physically barred the door three times when I went to retrieve them. (I made him watch while I did, however). The kicker
is that twice this year, as the pressure began to build, I had offered to resign with my dignity intact; apparently he preferred
to humiliate me. My dignity may have been bruised, but my integrity remains in tact.
Meanwhile, my work has been recognized
numerous times by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, but even more importantly, by taxpayers of all ages and walks of
life, even those employed by county government and all of its tentacles.
I have consistently asked tough questions regarding
mine subsidence, acid mine drainage, frivolous and self-serving spending and hiring practices in government, and the corporate
welfare being doled out to development firms and companies like Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, economic development and decent jobs
are virtually non-existent here.
Readers have called us the “Fox News” of southwestern Pa., because I would, as often
as possible, investigate the stories of people who felt no one else would listen, like the elderly gentleman who was getting
bogus bills from a trash collector that didn’t even haul anything in his area.
I have been accosted in public by the chairman
of the board of commissioners, the chief clerk, the recreation director, and on and on. One told me that I had no right to
editorialize about decisions being made by elected officials.
A simple request for basic public information brought on
an organized effort by the Greene County Association of Township Supervisors early last year in which they had planned to
boycott my request. Imagine their surprise when I showed up at the meeting.
In the end, we were able to produce a section
which listed the top ten salaries and budgets of all 44 townships and boroughs, as well as the five school districts. This
effort was the first by a newspaper in the state to test recent changes to the Open Records laws.
This is not about me
or an effort to get my job back.
This is about the soldiers who are dying everyday in Iraq, and the soldiers from our
own Waynesburg National Guard Unit, Company C—all of whom have been charged with promoting and protecting our way of life
Should Greene County Democratic leaders be permitted to trample the efforts of our troops?
Maybe you think you
don’t care about Greene County politics. Yet there is no way to separate politics from the poverty and woeful lack of infrastructure
and development here, which rivals the number of lives and acres being impacted by the coal cars that leave here each day.
America stops at the Greene County line where every hour we are inching closer to the likes of Saddam Hussein and bin
My pledge is to do what I can to stop this insidious deterioration of our freedoms, word by word, if it takes the
rest of my life.