PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The appointment this week of Keith Burris as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s new executive editor raised some eyebrows.
Burris now overseas both the editorial page and the news content.
He also takes over at a time of turmoil at the paper.
In the midst of tough labor negotiations, tensions in the Post-Gazette newsroom run high, especially after a dramatic weekend visit from publisher John Robinson Block where he, allegedly, shouted and screamed at reporters and staff.
On Wednesday, newly appointed executive editor Keith Burris sat down with KDKA for a no-holds barred interview, including Block’s behavior.
Burris had no comment on Block’s alleged behavior, saying, “That’s not something I can comment on. There’s a complaint before the National Labor Relations Board.”
When asked how he would react if an employee had behaved that way in this newsroom, Burris said, “I wasn’t here, so I don’t think that would be appropriate for me to weigh in on.”
Burris again held back when asked if there would be a consequence if somebody came into the newsroom, an employee, and started yelling, and shouting and threatening people.
“Well, you’d have to have all the facts to make a judgment, and I think I’ve answered the question,” he said.
Burris was brought in a year ago by Block to oversee the editorial page which, in the view of many, has now moved from its once liberal stance to a more conservative one, as evidenced by discharging anti-Trump cartoonist Rob Rogers.
“Well, that decision was the publisher’s decision,” Burris said. “Decisions of that kind are at that level, and that was, I would say, the cartoonist almost fired himself.”
But the new cartoonist, Steve Kelley, was accused by some of being sexist for his portrayal of women.
“Cartoonists get reaction if they’re good cartoonists, and he’s a very fine cartoonist,” Burris says of Kelley.
Burris says the Block family has taken a financial hit maintaining a newspaper in Pittsburgh.
“You would have to call it philanthropic the losses they have taken over many years, huge losses, to produce a great newspaper,” he said.
In Part 2 of Jon Delano’s interview with Burris on Thursday at 6 p.m., the new editor will talk about political correctness in news, the quality of his newsroom and whether reporters deserve a pay raise, and his new role overseeing both news content and editorials, something many papers keep separate.