Pohla Smith, a pioneering journalist who as a UPI sportswriter in the 1970s was among the first women to gain admission to professional sports locker rooms, recently retired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Smith had been beset by some health issues recently.
On her last day at work, colleagues at the Post-Gazette honored her in the newsroom with a large cake and even larger accolades for successfully fighting the good fight against the unconscionable discrimination once faced by female journalists, particularly in the area of sports coverage.
Executive Editor David M. Shribman lauded her work as a UPI writer covering professional sports and horse racing at a time when few were doing so and her work at the Post-Gazette over the last two decades in a variety of roles as both an editor and writer.
Pittsburgh Local Guild President Michael A. Fuoco recalled that as a young reporter at a small paper he tore off sheets from the UPI wire machine and was inspired by Smith’s graceful writing and her success in rightfully gaining the same access as her male counterparts. “And then years later, after Pohla joined us here at the Post-Gazette, I was honored to actually call this legend both my colleague and friend.”
Nor was Smith’s trailblazing lost on the bevy of summer interns at the PG who joined in the praise, gave her a card and posed for a photo with her. “As a female journalist, I personally feel indebted to her for breaking down the walls that she did,” one intern said.
Smith said she plans to freelance occasionally for the Post-Gazette. Her fellow journalists cheered.