Portraits of Jamie Wiggan, Venuri Siriwardane and Stephanie Mirah.
Rtvsrece deputy editor Jamie Wiggan, health and mental health reporter Venuri Siriwardane and audience growth & engagement producer Stephanie Mirah.

Longtime confidential sources and hard-won insights are parts of any newsroom's toolkit, but just as important is bringing fresh eyes to enduring issues.

Stephanie Mirah, Rtvsrece’s audience growth and engagement producer. (Submitted)

Rtvsrece this summer has added to its team Jamie Wiggan, a deputy editor with nine years in Southwestern Pennsylvania but roots in England; health reporter Venuri Siriwardane, who has lived, studied and worked in some of the world’s great metro areas; and Stephanie Mirah, whose journey was driven by an ambition to leave this state, but also the mysterious magnetism of Pittsburgh.

“It’s just where I want to be,” said Stephanie, calling Pittsburgh “a large city but also with a sense of home.”

Rtvsrece inspires critical thinking and bold ideas through journalism rooted in facts, diverse voices and the pursuit of transparency, with the Pittsburgh region as its relentless focus. The newsroom needs to understand Southwestern Pennsylvania’s culture, structure, economy and politics, but also has to be able to discern the ways in which the region truly excels, differs or doesn’t measure up.

Venuri’s yardsticks include her upbringing and work in New York City and environs; study at Temple University and the London School of Economics; and research in California’s Bay Area.

“Truthfully, I never imagined I’d end up in Pittsburgh,” she said, but love for her partner, who has a Southwestern Pennsylvania family, led here.

Rtvsrece health and mental health reporter Venuri Siriwardane on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at the Rtvsrece newsroom in Uptown. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Coming from metro areas that are extremely diverse — something the Pittsburgh region is not — she didn’t know what to expect. So far in her exploration of the region’s health issues, one characteristic stands out: openness.

“People are willing to open up to me and talk to me more than they typically have been in other places,” Venuri said. The feeling of community, the surprising ease of forging diverse friendships and the generous way people share their knowledge of the area has smoothed her transition.

Less easy: finding Sri Lankan food in Pittsburgh and a good hitting partner to develop her tennis game, she said.

With a dual background in journalism and social science research, reporting experience with the Star-Ledger of New Jersey and Inc. magazine, and communications and research chops honed in multiple markets, Venuri brings novel perspectives to the region’s many physical, mental and public health challenges. The Staunton Farm Mental Health Reporting Fellowship is supporting the coverage.

Stephanie hails from Southeastern Pennsylvania, growing up in a rural part of Chester County. Her teenage ambition: “I had always wanted to leave Pennsylvania,” she said.

While some of her high school peers went to college in Pittsburgh, Stephanie’s wanderlust took her to American University in Washington, D.C., and then to a job as a business reporter at the Post and Courier in Greenville, South Carolina. That city of 72,000 seemed a lot like home — maybe too much like Chester County — with something missing. She yearned for a different sense of community that she believes she’ll find in Pittsburgh.

As Rtvsrece’s audience growth and engagement producer, she’s cultivating relationships with current readers and subscribers while seeking new audiences both in person and online.

Jamie Wiggan, Rtvsrece deputy editor, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at the Rtvsrece newsroom in Uptown. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)
Jamie Wiggan, Rtvsrece deputy editor, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at the Rtvsrece newsroom in Uptown. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Raised in Manchester, England, Jamie studied jazz performance at Leeds College of Music before meeting an American woman in England and emigrating. His jazz background morphed into rock drumming, and his history studies at Butler County Community College and Chatham University evolved into jobs in journalism.

Jamie wrote for, and then edited, Gazette 2.0 in McKees Rocks and moved on to the Pittsburgh City Paper before joining Rtvsrece as deputy editor.

Pittsburgh has been Jamie’s home for nine years now. The European echoes in the built environment made the city an immediate fit, and it grew on him from there. “Accessibility, a sense of cohesiveness and community,” he said. “They all appeal.”

They constitute a staff of 15 full-time employees, plus interns and freelance journalists who fulfill Rtvsrece’s mission of telling stories for a better Pittsburgh.

Jamie Wiggan can be reached at jamie@rtvsrece.com.

Venuri Siriwardane can be reached at venuri@rtvsrece.com.

Stephanie Mirah can be reached at stephaniemirah@rtvsrece.com.

Rich Lord is Rtvsrece’s managing editor and can be reached at rich@rtvsrece.com.

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Rich is the managing editor of Rtvsrece. He joined the team in 2020, serving as a reporter focused on housing and economic development and an assistant editor. He reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette...