‘National Embarrassment’: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Under Fire After 2 Black Journalists Say They Were Barred From Protest Coverage

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has laid down a list of demands after a black Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist says she was barred from protest coverage because of a viral “thought provoking” tweet the newspaper told her was biased.

Alexis Johnson’s tweet from last weekend reads: “Horrifying scenes and aftermath from selfish LOOTERS who don’t care about this city!!!!! …. oh wait sorry. No, these are pictures from a Kenny Chesney concert tailgate. Whoops.”

The guild held a press conference Monday morning to address the situation, which is gaining national attention and coverage.

Guild president Michael Fuoco called it a “national embarrassment” and said the public has sent over 3,000 letters to the newspaper’s management in the last 24 hours. Public leaders like Lt. Gov. John Fetterman have also shown solidarity with Johnson.

The morning after Johnson’s tweet, she says she pitched four stories related to the protest to her editor and was told to hold off. She says she wasn’t talked to until the end of her shift.

Johnson says she was told her tweet violated the social media policy, but says there is no policy, only guidelines.

“As a black woman, as a Pittsburgh native, as the daughter of a retired state trooper and a retired probation officer, it was a shame I wasn’t able to bring my background to cover this story and it’s a shame those stories won’t be told,” she said at a press conference Monday morning.

Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist Michael Santiago says he was also pulled from protest coverage, but says management has yet to give him a reason.

The guild is calling on Post-Gazette management to issue an apology, remove the ban on Johnson and Santiago, stop retaliating against their supporters and to get back to ethical journalism.

“The Post-Gazette is on the wrong side of history. We’re on the right side of history,” Fuoco says.

“None of us should be here today,” Johnson said to press members Monday. “We should be covering one of the pivotal moments in history.”

KDKA’s Nicole Ford will have the latest from the press conference and a response from the Post-Gazette beginning at 4 p.m.