Controversial editorial director Keith Burris promoted to executive editor of Post-Gazette | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Controversial editorial director Keith Burris promoted to executive editor of Post-Gazette

Burris has received criticism for his editorials on race and other editorial decisions, as well as rebukes from the union representing P-G employees.

click to enlarge Controversial editorial director Keith Burris promoted to executive editor of Post-Gazette
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
According to a photo from a tweet posted by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette assignment editor Jonathon Silver, editorial director Keith Burris has been promoted to P-G's executive editor. That position was previously held by long-time editor David Shribman, who announced his retirement at the end of last year.
Burris, who was installed by P-G publisher John Block to take over the opinion section last year, is best known as the author behind a now-infamous editorial titled "Reason as Racism." The piece argued that calling someone a racist is "the new McCarthyism" and that the only people that can be deemed racists are mass murders like Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in a church because they were Black. That editorial provoked a significant backlash from Pittsburgh's foundation community and even the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, the labor union that represents P-G employees.

It was also under Burris that cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired for what Rogers said were his critical cartoons of President Donald Trump. Rogers was replaced by cartoonist Steve Kelley, who recently received criticism for drawing three sexist cartoons within one week.

As shown in letter, Burris will maintain his role managing the opinion pages of both the P-G and its sister publication The Toledo Blade. Nolan Rosenkrans, reporter at the Blade and President of Newspaper Guild/CWA #34043, was not thrilled with the move and called Burris a "puppet" for Block.
Block has defended the opinion section's sharp shift to the right in recent years, and says he believes there are people in the Pittsburgh region who appreciated the far-right content. One of them is KDKA talk radio host Wendy Bell, but most chatter on social media condemns the P-G's new tactics, mostly because the P-G was considered the city's left-leaning paper for decades. 

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which Silver chairs, has been at odds with Burris since he started at the P-G. The guild has issued official rebukes of his editorial decisions, including his editorial on racism and Kelley's sexist cartoons. The guild is currently in a years-long contract negation with Block. Guild members haven't received a raise in more than a decade.

On Feb 9., Block threw a tantrum in the P-G offices after seeing a poster the guild put up that said "Shame on the Blocks." The guild filed an NLRB complaint shortly after. 

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