From the Editor: Welcome to Marcellus Monitor


I can’t stand a bully. Never could.

And in 10 years working as a journalist in the Pittsburgh region, bullying may have been a topic of feature stories, but never really a part of my everyday working life.

Until I started writing about the Marcellus Shale.

I should clarify that: I was on great working terms with many in the shale industry when I was writing feature stories singing its praises. There were check presentations. There were outreach meetings when drilling activities commenced. There was even a story about Southpointe-based Range Resources employees buying a pig for $36,000 to help a local 4H student at the Washington County County Fair.

When I was laid off from my reporting position at the Observer-Reporter newspaper in Washington, Range’s controversial spokesman, Matt Pitzarella even endorsed me on LinkedIn, calling me a fair reporter.

But that all changed shortly after I became the editor of the Canon-McMillan Patch website, which published news from Canonsburg, Cecil and North Strabane (and for the record, Pitzarella deleted his endorsement sometime during my tenure there).

Pitzarella and fellow Range spin doctors Jim Cannon and Mike Mackin were initially very supportive of my reporting efforts (Cecil Township was one of the areas where drilling activity was brisk, and I covered those issues religiously). I even met with them at the corporate headquarters, where they tried to plant a story about Cecil’s solicitor.

Cannon and Mackin suggested I write a story about how that solicitor, John Smith, was running up legal bills related to Cecil Township and his review of shale-related issues. They even gave me the legal bills they had garnered from the township through a state Right to Know request.

I looked at the bills, and I passed on the story.

Because to me, it wasn’t “a story.” It was an attempt to get a reporter to write a propaganda piece.

Shortly after that meeting, Cecil became the epicenter of local shale issues.

And as I chased after stories that increasingly made Range Resources, MarkWest and other players in the shale industry look like something less than community benefactors, I noticed that my phone calls were increasingly ignored.

By the end of my tenure at Patch (I was furloughed in August), I had not received a phone call from Range Resources, specifically, for months.

More disturbing were reports I was hearing from other reporter friends also covering the industry. One reporter even confirmed that a story that was not complimentary to the shale industry was spiked at the behest of top industry brass.

Then there was all the propaganda.

After breaking a story about issues Cecil Towship officials and residents were having with a frac pond known as the Worstell impoundment, an industry-funded website that sells itself as a “news” site about shale issues, took aim at me and sources that helped me understand the issues I wrote about.

Around that same time (in the midst of Cecil and other communities challenging the state’s newly passed legislation governing Marcellus Shale activity called Act 13), I noticed that propaganda “informational” packets were being left at local meetings.

There was also a deluge of commenters on my former site who bullied readers who asked questions or who were critical of the shale industry.

Then there was the upheaval in Cecil as its supervisors fought over secret meetings with Range Resources, and a closed-door meeting with the Department of Environmental Protection – all related to the impoundment.

Since my departure from Patch in August, I have stayed close with my sources, and have learned of so many issues that, unfortunately, are not given much (if any) ink in the local press.

That’s why I created Marcellus Monitor: Because I think you deserve more reporting than you are getting.

And I assure you: I will not be bullied.

Here, you will find original reporting, informational features and aggregated content from around the web.

And I invite you and your friends to contribute, too. If you’d like to contribute a column, a letter to the editor, or a story, please email me at Also, please join us on Facebook here.

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23 thoughts on “From the Editor: Welcome to Marcellus Monitor

  1. Jamie Jones says:

    love it…….

  2. ajmbroadcasteducator says:

    Reblogged this on AJMBroadcastEducator.

  3. Tara Ewanits says:

    Well done! Looking forward to what you uncover.

  4. Scott Kelly says:

    Great intro Amanda. Now I have two great sources for information on the fracing industry (I also get emails from Representative Jessie White).

  5. John Trallo says:

    It’s refreshing to see that there are still a few honest journalists who are not afraid to tell the truth. It is people, journalists, reporters, like yourself that are essential to our democracy. I applaud your integrity, and your courage. Keep it up!

  6. Tina McCafferty says:

    Amanda,I cried when I read this. Thank you.

  7. Gloria says:

    Thank you offering an outlet for regional news on fracking in SWPA.

  8. Dennis Smiddle says:

    Dennis Smiddle Best wishes to you. Like Bob Marley say, “get up… stand up, stand up for your rights. Don’t give up the fight. See the Ralph Nader Page for inspiration against bullies,

  9. Honestly Amanda, I always thought you were one of the good ones: the few, the proud, the journalists that still have integrity and regard for the truth. Happy to see you have found a place where you can be honest. Thank you for taking the more difficult, yet honorable path.
    Message me on facebook and let’s talk about some stories.

  10. Welcome Amanda to WordPress, if I can be of help just drop me an email. It has not been the same over @ the Patch since you have been gone. In fact I have only been back 2 times since then. I will put you on my blog watch.

  11. I have long admired your journalism – glad that you’re in this for the long haul! Thanks for reporting real news. Liz R.,, @fractivista

  12. Candace Jordan says:

    So glad to see this! Much needed. Thank you so much.

  13. Thanks for the site and your excellent reporting Amanda.

  14. V Appalachia says:

    Thank you for your continued excellent work to tell the truth about fracking and the impacts of industrial gas development, Amanda. Please know that people across the Marcellus value your efforts.

    Real reporting on this issue is indeed under fire, and we need courageous and talented people like you who are willing to seek, speak and publish the truth.

  15. Gail Neustadt says:

    Honest journalists are difficult to come by. Thank you for being amongst the few out there. Thank you so much. I look forward to reading your postings. Dylan Weiss

  16. Gloria says:

    As a member of the grassroots / citizens’ press corps: Welcome to the brave new world – we need your voice and professional experience.

  17. Eileen says:

    Bully for you! We need reporters with your courage and conscience in this morally bankrupt world of greed-mongering. I look forward to your watchdog work/words.

  18. Mike says:

    Thank you for sticking with your coverage of the gas industry. We need honest and fair reporting, not shills for shale.

  19. Pat says:

    Good news! Best of luck in exposing this industry for exactly what it is!

  20. Rod Fletcher says:

    Keep it up and thanks for your courage

  21. Jay Sweeney says:

    Thank you!

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