Western Pennsylvania’s largest supermarket chain says it will no longer advertise or sell copies of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in its stores, as part of a new initiative to “stand up against racism and social justice.”
The move, announced in a Facebook post by Giant Eagle CEO Laura Shapira Karet, is in response to the paper’s decision to remove a Black reporter and photographer from covering local demonstrations protesting police violence.
“Due to recent actions by management at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Giant Eagle has made the decision to temporarily halt all advertising with the Post-Gazette, and to discontinue single copy sales in its Giant Eagle, Market District and GetGo locations,” Karet wrote in the post. “These measures will remain in place until the publication demonstrates an equal commitment to all those in the communities it serves.”
According to the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents the Post-Gazette’s newsroom employees, reporter Alexis Johnson was told by managers that a tweet about a Kenny Chesney concert violated a social media policy and showed bias. They removed her and a Black photographer, Michael Santiago, from covering the protests.
Executive Editor Keith Burris penned a column disputing the Guild’s version of events, saying race did not play a role in Johnson’s reassignment. But a white reporter who says he was also reprimanded about his tweets, says he was not disciplined the same as Johnson or Santiago.
Karet wrote in the company statement that the organization had “taken time to self-reflect on what we as individuals and as an organization must do to stand up against racism and social injustice. Words are important, but they are not nearly enough. The time for action is now.”
In addition, Giant Eagle said it would contribute $350,000 to social justice causes, and will close its all its locations on June 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. “engage our Team Members in a discussion about our personal experiences and what steps can be taken to affect change in ourselves and in our communities.”
Correspondent Kim Lyons covers Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @SocialKimLy.