Friday, February 15, 2019

Report: Tensions Mount At Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tensions between the newsroom and the newspaper’s publisher and editor-in-chief, John Robinson Block, remain on edge after an intense and belligerent exchange with several journalists over the weekend.

According to,  Block entered the newsroom in an agitated state with his 12-year-old daughter Saturday night and appeared out of control as he ranted about the newspaper’s union and its employees.

John Robinson Block
“Nobody has ever seen him in that kind of state, which was very agitated and possibly intoxicated,” Michael A. Fuoco, a Post-Gazette reporter and president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, told the Inquirer. “It was so disturbing, the HR director had to order the publisher out of the building. I’ve been here 35 years. This is unprecedented.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the union representing newsroom employees at the Post-Gazette, filed a complaint Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board over Block’s actions, alleging the longtime publisher threatened to unjustly fire journalists engaging in union activity. The guild also released eyewitness accounts from four employees who were in the newsroom and on the receiving end of Block’s rant. Action News 4 in Pittsburgh also obtained audio recording of the episode.

Andrew Goldstein, a police reporter at the paper, said in his account that Block was “ranting like a madman,” upset over a “Shame on the Blocks” sign on the guild’s bulletin board, put up amid contentious contract negotiations. Web editor Marianne Mizera said she felt threatened and “started to shake” when Block began manhandling his 12-year-old daughter, whom Mizera described as “crying, shaking and pleading.”

“I’ve been working in newsrooms for more than a decade, and this is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen,” said paginator Alex Miller. “He appeared totally out of control. He was loud and violent, and it was frightening to witness because he was so erratic.”

No one at Block Communications, which owns the Post-Gazette, the Toledo Blade, and several local television stations, responded to a request for comment. Block Communications Chairman Allan Block — John Block’s twin brother — said in a statement to NEXTpittsburgh that “frustration over financial and other challenges in the newspaper industry” led to the heated episode with employees, which he described as an “unfortunate exchange.”

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