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The Post-Gazette pushes back after Rob Rogers’ firing

Illustration+by+Eli+Savage+%7C+Staff+Illustrator
Illustration by Eli Savage | Staff Illustrator

Illustration by Eli Savage | Staff Illustrator

Illustration by Eli Savage | Staff Illustrator

By Grant Burgman | News Editor

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette fired cartoonist Rob Rogers June 14 for being “unwilling to collaborate on his cartoons” after 25 years of creating editorial cartoons for the paper. Rogers claims that he was fired because his supervising editors thought he was being too harsh to President Donald Trump in his cartoons.

His firing comes just 12 days after Rogers tweeted that he would be taking vacation days until “issues with the Post-Gazette are resolved.” Rogers has had a contentious three months with the Post-Gazette, and says 19 of his cartoons were rejected for publication since March.

The Post-Gazette published what Rogers called an “openly racist editorial,” in February, which many of the paper’s readers interpreted as a defense of vulgar remarks Trump reportedly made in a closed-door meeting on immigration.

The piece prompted the paper’s writers to take a four-day byline strike, foregoing credit for the work that filled the paper to protest the editorial.

Most of Rogers’ rejected cartoons were critical of Trump. Rogers said his comics started being rejected after Keith Burris — the vice president and editorial director of Block Communications, which owns the Post-Gazette — took over as his supervising editor in March.

Rogers wrote an op-ed in The New York Times June 15 as his story gained national traction. The Washington Post also ran a story on the strife between Rogers and the P-G June 8, before his firing.

A group of Post-Gazette employees were featured in an ad in Tuesday’s paper in response to Rogers’ firing. In the ad, over 100 Post-Gazette employees are standing for a group picture above the words “We are the Post-Gazette.” In the accompanying text beneath it, the staff reminds the readers that they are “independent, impartial journalists who work without interference or influence to provide our community with news that matters.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents over 150 employees and 15 newsroom managers from the Post-Gazette, purchased the ad space for the P-G employees. The newsroom managers signed a letter to the readers attached to the ad. The attached letter made no mention of Rogers’ firing, and instead re-emphasized the text of the ad stating “the editors of the P-G are committed to the independent, impartial, presentation of the news.”

Post-Gazette, however, addressed Rogers’ firing in an article about the ad posted on Tuesday. Rogers tweeted a picture of his first cartoon since being fired later in the day on Tuesday.

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The Post-Gazette pushes back after Rob Rogers’ firing