NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss called on Pittsburg Post-Gazette top editors Keith Burris and Karen Kane to resign Friday, days into uproar over their sidelining of a black journalist who posted a satirical tweet about protests over police brutality and systemic racism.
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburg joined the larger union in the call.
Schleuss wrote, “In an insulting ‘open letter’ published in the paper Wednesday, Burris publicly commented for the first time since barring dozens of staffers from covering George Floyd protests and related issues. The sidelining started with Alexis Johnson, one of the paper’s few Black journalists, after she posted an innocuous, witty and insightful tweet satirically juxtaposing the mess left behind after a Kenny Chesney concert with criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement that focused solely on looting and not on the root causes for massive protests. About 100 of Johnson’s colleagues who reposted the tweet in support of her were subsequently also forbidden from covering the most monumental civil rights movement in their lifetimes.”
The “open letter” Schleuss referrs to is here. In it, executive editor Burris says the paper “did not single out two people and keep them from covering local protests because they were black.” He calls that an “outrageous lie” and “defamation.”
The original tweet from Johnson comparing protests to the aftermath of a country music concert is here. Johnson retweeted the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburg’s statement on joining the NewsGuild in demanding the editors’ resignations.
Johnson has said Post-Gazette editors told her after her tweet she was no longer allowed to cover the protests because, in their view, that tweet displayed “bias.” After filing a complaint through the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh that apparently fell on deaf ears, Johnson went public about the issue on Twitter last Friday, prompting a show of support from colleagues and other journalists who tweeted the hashtag #IStandWithAlexis.
The unions join unexpected allies in speaking out against the Post-Gazette’s management: On Wednesday, the Giant Eagle grocery store chain announced “steps to stand up against racism,” one of which included halting advertising in the paper and stop selling it in stores “due to recent actions by the publication.”
Read original story NewsGuild Calls For Top Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editors’ Resignation Over ‘Outrageous Insensitivity’ in Protest Coverage At TheWrap