By:
June 29, 2020

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Things have turned even nastier at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Post-Gazette reporter Michael Fuoco, who is the president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, called on Post-Gazette executive editor Keith Burris and managing editor Karen Kane to resign Sunday — just hours after Burris published an op-ed that started off by talking about racial equality and justice and the future of race in America and quickly devolved into a whiny and selfish commentary about how he has been treated in recent weeks.

Burris wrote, “Through most of my life in news­pa­per­ing, most of the bul­lies came from the far right. To­day, in Amer­ica, they come from the far left, though the fas­cist im­pulse is still from the far right in most of the world. But here, to­day, it is the ‘woke’ who speak openly of si­lenc­ing po­ten­tial apos­tates.”

Burris then explained some of the nasty emails and phone calls he has received since he pulled a Black journalist off the paper’s protest coverage because she sent a tweet mocking a Kenny Chesney concert. Saying the reporter had compromised her objectivity with the tweet, Burris then took other reporters off the story because they retweeted the original tweet. (The Post-Gazette has since reached out to Poynter to say the journalist wasn’t “pulled off” protest coverage as she wasn’t assigned protest coverage to begin with.)

Meanwhile, much of the Post-Gazette staff has publicly criticized Burris.

On Sunday, Fuoco tweeted, “Curious about what systemic racism looks like? Just read, if you dare, Keith Burris’ putrid word salad defending the practice at the @pittsburghpg by incredibly painting himself as a victim. Methinks he doth protest too much. And methinks he needs to resign along with Karen Kane.”

Many P-G journalists retweeted and/or liked Fuoco’s tweet. Another went a step further.

Matt Moret, a P-G digital editor, tweeted he was taking a buyout and added, “I love the PG, I love Pittsburgh, but I’m leaving both because Keith Burris and Karen Kane can’t find the strength to even BS an apology.” He added, “I cannot emphasize enough that this began with us demanding an apology. Just say you made a mistake, fix it, move on. That was too much to ask, apparently. I hate that this feels like them beating me down, but I’m taking comfort in leaving on my own terms.”

Clarification: This story has been edited to clarify that Keith Burris wrote an op-ed, not an editorial.

Note: This story has been updated to include a response from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer. For the latest media news and analysis, delivered free to your inbox each and every weekday morning, sign up for his Poynter Report newsletter.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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  • A story that reconstructs the facts of this disaster would be most helpful. There needs to be a point-by-point refutation of the editor’s ill-founded generalizations.