Diane I. Daniels feels it’s her mission to report the stories of the unsung heroes in the African-American community—particularly those who are contributing to the fledgling economy through their small businesses.
“I love being able to tell people’s stories in the Black community,” said Daniels, who serves as the New Pittsburgh Courier Newspaper’s resident business writer. “I love being able to tell other people’s stories through my words and my pictures. There are a lot of great people in this city doing great things in this city that people just don’t know about. It’s our responsibility to tell these stories.”
Daniels, who grew up in the Mon Valley’s McKeesport section, but now resides in Pittsburgh, was recently recognized for her thorough business articles by the Commonwealth when she was awarded the Keystone State Press Award in June in Gettysburg, she also was a key reason why the Courier Business page was among the three best in the country at the NNPA awards recently. The business section has consistently finished among the top three in the NNPA, with her features being one of the key reasons.
She was one of hundreds of journalists, page designers and photographers honored by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.
The PNA was created to move the interests of Pennsylvania newspapers forward and protest the independent and free press.
The Wilberforce University graduate won in the business and consumer category for an article that ran in a January edition of the New Pittsburgh Courier and was focused on President Barack Obama’s jobs plan and the House’s Startup America Initiative. The article also included a 2012 business climate forecast from some of Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs.
Daniels’ story beat out close to 5,000 entries from more than 145 PNA newspapers to score the Keystone State Press Award.
“I was excited about the award. It seemed like an important award. The banquet to receive the award was held at the Wyndham in Gettysburg and I had never been to Gettysburg before. My husband is a veteran so it was nice to get to see the historical aspects there,” said Daniels, who cites her parents and husband as her inspirations.
Daniels got bitten by the writing bug in high school after an historical fact from her teacher sparked an impassioned commentary.
“My teacher was telling us that Black men were considered ¾ of a man. I was daydreaming before she said that. She wanted us to write a paper about the subject. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s when McKeesport was different,” she recalled.
Her first article was published in 1973 in “Now,” a now-defunct community-based magazine.
From there she moved on to Wilberforce University, where she became the editor of the newspaper and represented the university’s student paper during a visit with President Jimmy Carter.
After graduating, Daniels returned to Pittsburgh and landed a job as a general assignment reporter at the McKeesport Daily News. She was the paper’s first African-American reporter.
At night she would moonlight as an entertainment reporter with the New Pittsburgh Courier.
“I had wanted to work for the Courier my whole life. The Courier is one of our oldest papers and I think about the history of people that have come through there,” she said.
After working at the McKeesport Daily News for a year, Daniels was offered a job as an Information Specialist with the Manchester Citizens Corporation—she still worked as a freelance entertainment reporter for the Courier.
Daniels left the Manchester Citizens Corporation in 1983 due to layoffs. Instead of sitting on her laurels, she decided to branch out and start her own business.
Enter DID Associates, a public relations and marketing business.
“When I started my business, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just said I can do this because of the talents that God gave me and as long as I am being obedient to Him, I will be just fine,” she said. “I was always taking pictures and someone was always asking me to write press releases and it seemed like someone always needed you to write something.”
Two years after opening DID Associates, Daniels went to New York City and began managing and working with national recording artists and groups. In addition she started doing business development for Orange County Community College.
“I organized business development programs and put together information about business plans for small businesses,” she said.
Daniels returned to Pittsburgh in the early 1990s and landed a position with the Urban League of Pittsburgh running the organization’s self-employment training program, which helped small businesses get on their feet.
She held that position for two years before returning to DID Associates and her love of writing for the New Pittsburgh Courier.
Daniels has been writing exclusive business articles for the Courier for more than five years.
In addition to the Keystone State Press Award, Daniels has been lauded by other organizations for her tireless pursuit in helping out the small business owner.
Some of those organizations include the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Semper Fidelis Club.