COVERAGE Of State Lawmaker

Editor let go over elected official coverage

Posted

Pittsburgh-based blogger Sue Kerr posts that Pittsburgh City Paper editor Charlie Deitch has been terminated a week after he was told to stop reporting on PA State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, strident anti-LBGT elected official.

In Kerr's post she notes Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Rich Lord wrote on May 15, "The Pittsburgh City Paper, which has been among the region’s most unabashedly liberal publications, fired its editor-in-chief today, in what the ousted journalist said was an apparent reaction to his coverage of conservative lawmaker Daryl Metcalfe.

Also today, the quarter-century-old weekly newspaper announced the hiring of Rob Rossi as its new editor.

Lord's story noted Deitch has been with the alternative newsweekly since 2005, and was told "upon entry to the paper’s Downtown office he 'was told that I had to go'."

Lord's story quoted Ditch saying "this comes exactly one week after my acting general manager told me that I was to no longer write about @RepMetcalfe Because he is a client of the parent company, the Butler Eagle. I refused to do so I told them that as an ethical journalist I could not stop writing about an elected official or anyone else in a newsworthy situation just because they are a client. I was then told to retract a recent story and I refused."

Lord's story noted the ownership of the Butler Eagle newspaper bought the Pittsburgh City Paper in 2016.

The Post-Gazette' story noted the Pittsburgh City Paper posted the following statement, attributed to Vernon L. Wise III, president of Eagle Media Corp., on its website:

"Today we had to make the very difficult decision to part ways with our editor, Charlie Deitch. Charlie has served Pittsburgh City Paper and the people of Pittsburgh incredibly well in his tenure here and oversaw many positive changes at City Paper, including our newest redesign."

Ditch reportedly said the termination came a week after he received an email from Raymond Sielski, general manager for Butler Color Press, which is affiliated with the Butler Eagle, telling him: “Charlie, Can you redirect your anti Metcalf [sic] efforts toward let’s say maybe Pittsburgh politics. Are we not running any local races that CP readership might like to hear about relevant to Pittsburgh.”

Ditch reportedly answered: “I would not stop writing about Daryl Metcalfe, because he is a public official, and a high profile government official, and I would not stop writing about him. … I told him I would not censor my content when it comes to Daryl Metcalfe or anyone else.”

Mr. Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, has been the subject of frequent coverage in the Pittsburgh City Paper, especially in regard to his opposition to legislation to advance gay rights. Last week, for instance, Pittsburgh City Paper posted online a story headlined, “State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s pro-gun rally attracted support of group with white-supremacist origins.”

On May 2, the Pittsburgh City Paper published an editorial titled, "Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has proven himself unfit for office."

According to Lord, Metcalfe could not be immediately reached for comment at his Harrisburg or Cranberry offices.