The newspaper is named after the original Pittsburgh Courier (1907-1965), which in the 1930s and 1940s was one of the largest and most influential African-American newspapers in the country, with a nationwide circulation of more than 350,000.
After circulation declines in the 1950s and 1960s, the original Courier was purchased by John H. Sengstacke, publisher of The Chicago Daily Defender, in 1966. He reorganized the paper under a new name — the New Pittsburgh Courier — to avoid paying several outstanding tax bills and invoices. He later commented:
"The Courier had a great history. The loss would not only be a big loss for the city of Pittsburgh, but a devastating loss for the entire country. The Black press is the only true voice Black people have. I've worked tireless to make sure that it is heard loud and clear throughout this country.
The New Pittsburgh Courier joined Sengstacke's other newspapers in a chain of prominent African-American publications, including the Defender. Following Sengstacke's death in 1997, what was then a four-paper chain was held in a family trust until 2003, when it was sold for nearly $12 million to Real Times, a group of investors with several business and family ties to Sengstacke.
One of the new owners was Thomas Picou, who said in 2002 that among his plans for the New Pittsburgh Courier were more emphasis on in-depth features and arts, creating a web presence — which neither it nor the Defender had at the time — and a change in its political outlook from liberal to "conservative independence".