Reporter Sues Newspaper For Prohibiting Her Coverage Of Protests
Above photo: Alexis Johnson was prohibited from covering the city’s Black Lives Matter protests because of a tweet. From AP.
Alexis Johnson alleges racial discrimination and illegal retaliation against the outlet.
A reporter in Pittsburgh is suing the newspaper she works for after the company prohibited her from covering the city’s Black Lives Matter protests because of a tweet concerning the issue.
Alexis Johnson, a black reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania alleging racial discrimination and illegal retaliation on Tuesday.
The suit claims that Ms. Johnson was prevented from pursuing stories on jailed protesters or social-media efforts to raise bail funds after she posted a tweet on 31 May highlighting the different treatment black and white people regarding property damage.
“Horrifying scenes and aftermath from selfish LOOTERS who don’t care about this city!!!!!” the tweet says. “…. oh wait sorry. ”No, these are pictures from a Kenny Chesney concert tailgate. Whoops.”
The suit stated that the tweet “was intended to — and did — mock, ridicule and protest discrimination against African Americans by society in general and by whites who equate property damage with human life.”
The filing alleges that the subsequent ban on her coverage “would tend to dissuade a reasonable newspaper reporter from making or supporting claims of race discrimination.”
The lawsuit also alleges that white reporters who have sent similar social media posts did not receive similar treatment in similar circumstances.
“For example, Defendant’s reporters who spoke out publicly against discrimination and hate after the 2018 shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue — which did not involve actions by police directed at African Americans — were not removed from covering that story,” the suit says.
The suit alleges that Ms. Johnson has suffered mental anguish, emotional strain, humiliation, and diminished career advancement because of her employers.
The reporter and her legal team are seeking for the paper to be forced to allow her to cover the protest and racial issues, to be prevented from retaliating against her and monetary damages to be determined at trial.
Post-Gazette managing editor Karen Kane previously declined comment on the issue when contacted by The Associated Press, stating that editors could not discuss personnel matters.
An email seeking comment on the lawsuit was sent to Ms. Johnson’s editors by The AP.
Ms. Johnson’s fellow reporters, her union, and the city’s mayor have all voiced support for the reporter.
Guild President Michael A Fuoco, who is also a Post-Gazette reporter, said that guild leaders were “appalled” by the paper’s move.