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Launched in January 2011, the Beaver Countian has grown very quickly to become Beaver County’s top online news source.
The site was pioneered as a one-person guerrilla journalism venture by John Paul Vranesevich, filling the role of a local traditional press watchdog and alerting the public when a problem is detected.
The Beaver Countian has more than 26,000 Facebook followers and more than 15,000 people signed up to receive instant smartphone notifications as each new piece is published.
The site set state precedent in 2017 for an online news publication, when a Pennsylvania Common Pleas Judge ruled it is covered by the state’s Reporter Shield Law and constitutes a newspaper of general circulation.
It was the first time in Pennsylvania that a new media reporter invoked the protection of anonymous sources and was the result of an unsuccessful subpoena filed by the Beaver County Treasurer and her daughter, seeking the identities of anonymous commenters.
Sources are assured of complete anonymity if necessary.
Such incredible reporting in your community
Ashleigh BanfieldCNN Headline News - Crime & Justice
The site has received assistance from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s leading digital civil rights organization, dedicated to ensuring that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as the use of technology grows.
In addition, the Beaver Countian is dedicated to the freedom of the press, transparency in government, and the tenets of journalism: accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform, not a devotion to a certain group or outcome.
Many of the Beaver Countian’s investigations have led to public action, judgments, arrests and convictions, and have received peer recognition. It has successfully sought and received many records initially denied by public officials. Its reporting is regularly cited by regional, national and international news outlets.
The Beaver Countian’s primary focus remains uncovering corruption and waste in local government, though it also works to provide readers with growing coverage of other newsworthy events.
Superstar editor and reporter ... John Paul Vranesevich please keep your head down, I am telling you!
Nancy GraceSirius XM - Crime Stories
Before this second life as a journalist, John Paul was known as an internationally renowned computer security expert, regularly tapped to lecture at places like the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, FBI headquarters in D.C., CIA headquarters, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He’s appeared in hundreds of publications and books, has been profiled in Vanity Fair, and his life rights were optioned by John Wells Productions — the producer of E.R. and The West Wing.
The Sherlock Holmes of the Internet
Bryan BurroughVanity Fair Magazine
John Paul started a site that tracked news about hackers while in Beaver Area junior high to convey what he was learning about computing and network security. It later transitioned to a computer security site when he discovered a hacker was targeting military networks and attempting to sell information to alleged terrorists purporting to be associated with Osama bin Laden.
His work was basically one of an online detective, tracking hackers for federal and corporate entities, drawing the intense ire of the hacking community. Eventually, he sold his site to a NASDAQ traded tech company.
His transition to creating the Beaver Countian was quite natural.
That work of intense research, developing a multitude of strong sources and finding the way to truth and justice is now focused on Beaver County. John Paul’s favorite press-related quote is one from President Theodore Roosevelt:
“Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed.”