Eyewitnesses say the publisher of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette drunkenly stumbled through the newsroom screaming at journalists, firing them– and demanded that a photo of him and his daughter be published on the front page. Meanwhile, his daughter screamed, “Please, please Daddy no!”
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh today released some of the eyewitness accounts of an incident involving Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block and his daughter “that transpired on the night of Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 in the paper’s North Shore newsroom.”
As Mr. Block stepped off the elevator and proceeded to walk briskly — in a slightly stumbling, awkward manner — through the newsroom toward the “web hub” area, he was immediately yelling about various topics, pointing and waving his finger repeatedly up in the air and swinging his arms.
He was very angry and irate. The entire newsroom could hear his voice.
As he got closer to the hub area, he walked straight to the Guild bulletin board, and pointed to and touched the Guild “Shame on the Blocks!” sign.
It was clear he was intoxicated.
Mr. Block yelled at Tim to immediately call Sally Stapleton, which Tim did and told Mr. Block that she was on her way.
He shouted that he wanted a picture of himself and his daughter taken in front of the Guild sign and demanded it run on the “front page of tomorrow’s paper.” He fervently demanded the photos be taken NOW, right away and forcefully grabbed his daughter’s forearm, pulling her into the picture as she tried her best to pull away from him. She was crying, shaking and pleading with her father that she did NOT want to be in ANY photograph.
She screamed, “Please, please Daddy, no!” multiple times. And multiple times he yanked on her arm, trying to pull to his side so a photo could be taken of the both of them.
The photo editor on duty, REDACTED, snapped a few photos to placate Mr. Block as he continued to pull his sobbing daughter to his side.
Mr. Block, through his threatening posturing and verbally abusive tone, appeared extremely annoyed and growing angrier by the minute that Sally had not yet arrived, despite Tim’s repeated reassurances that Sally was on her way.
In his heightened agitated state, Mr. Block continued to walk back and forth in front of the Guild bulletin board and continued with his belligerent behavior. He did not and would not calm down: He repeatedly shouted out rude comments about various current and former managers, mocking them (saying some had “gone to the dark side”), the newsroom staff (what he called “the working class”), and his ex-wife, and bemoaned what he called a loss of millions of dollars on the part of the company.
He yelled at his daughter, up to her face: “You’re a Block don’t you forget it. You’re a Block, you’re not one of them,” repeatedly as he firmly jabbed his finger into her shoulder.
I started to shake. Other members of the staff were rattled and didn’t know what to do about the situation unfolding. During this time, I texted Guild officer Jonathan Silver to let him know what was going on and that staffers working that night felt threatened and that he should get down to the newsroom as soon as possible, if he could.
The reports are pretty awful.
Mr. Block’s family and press reps deny the claims.