Toledo and Pittsburgh NewsGuilds to hold news conference to voice concerns about leadership
The unions say their newspapers’ owner has been pushing a dangerous, far-right news agenda.
TOLEDO, Ohio — “We have known for years that publisher John Block’s politics are far-right leaning and he has repeatedly tried to slant news coverage to paint Trump, the presidential candidate The Blade and Post-Gazette endorsed under Block’s guidance, in a more positive light.”
The Toledo and Pittsburgh News Guilds will hold a joint news conference Friday at 9 a.m. to voice their concerns about the Block family, which owns The Blade, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Buckeye Cable and many more media entities.
According to a news release, Wednesday, Blade Executive Editor Kurt Franck issued guidance to Blade digital managers, requesting they not refer to those rioting in Washington as “Trump supporters”, despite the majority of those in attendance wielding “Trump 2020” flags, hats and the president’s vocal support for the event, which goal was to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which were secure and accurate.
Blade newsroom managers inserted the qualifiers “a majority,” “mostly,” and “some” in front of references to Trump supporters, both in wire copy, wire photos, and a story written by a Blade reporter. Doing so waters down the truth of what happened on Wednesday and is a disservice to our readers. They are also done in a political climate where some are attempting to create misinformation about who was responsible for, and participated in, Wednesday’s chaos.
Union leaders say the Blocks have inserted their political views into their Toledo and Pittsburgh newspapers’ reporting, in a time when fair and accurate reporting is vital.
A Toledo News Guild news release reads in-part:
In January 2018, The Blade and Post-Gazette co-published the wildly controversial “Reason as Racism” editorial that was called, among other things, “a sorry pastiche of whitewashing drivel.” The author of the editorial, Keith Burris, was promoted a year later to executive editor of the Post-Gazette.
During the protests that arose after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Post-Gazette management barred a Black reporter, Alexis Johnson, from covering anything related to the protests, citing bias because of a tweet about property damage at a county-music concert. Johnson currently has a pending discrimination lawsuit against the paper.
After tweeting support for Johnson, Post-Gazette reporters were also barred by management from covering protests. On the night of June 5, PG management deleted two published articles by reporters Ashley Murray and Lauren Lee from post-gazette.com and the next morning replaced them with stripped down copy, without bylines.
The unions say despite the actions of the Blocks, they will continue to provide fair and accurate reporting to their communities.