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New PG Editor Defends Publisher While Praising Newspaper Staff

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- When Keith Burris became the Post-Gazette's new executive editor after the alleged newsroom misconduct of publisher John Robinson Block, he sent an email to employees.

During an exclusive sit-down interview with KDKA money editor Jon Delano, he asked Burris about that email, "You said, 'We must deescalate, we must heal.' What did you mean by that?"

"I think without getting into the past," Burris said, "it's important that any organization stick together and not shoot itself in the foot, not make war on itself or on its ownership."

His role as executive editor, said Burris, is to be "a listener and a big brother."

But having gone 13 years without a pay raise, reporters and their Newspaper Guild have issues with Block, and vice versa it seems.

Burris: "I can't see that the family is so unhappy with the Guild. You know, I would put it this way…"
Delano: "Well, that's not what that Saturday would seem to represent."
Burris: "Well, again I couldn't speak to that, but I would say this -- it's no secret that you can't make much of a profit in newspapers these days."

Burris says the Blocks are losing money in Pittsburgh.

"To me, we're here because of this family," Burris said.

Delano: "You can understand that no reporter in any profession wants to go years without a pay raise."
Burris: "Nobody in any profession. Period."

But Burris says you can't put a dollar on professional satisfaction, noting the Post-Gazette staff is "an excellent team, very smart people."

He also warns against political correctness, citing the Jussie Smollett story.

"We are so sure of what we think that we don't want to question ourselves or let the facts undo us, and, of course, that's the opposite of our mission as journalists," Burris said.

Burris now oversees both news and editorials, once split to keep one from influencing the other.

He defends that by citing an earlier editor.

"John Craig was in charge of both at the Post-Gazette," Burris said.

Check out the first part of Jon Delano's two-part interview with the new Post-Gazette editor here.

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