The local alternative weekly newspaper, the Pittsburgh City Paper, fired its editor-in-chief Charlie Deitch Tuesday.
Deitch said on Twitter that he believes he was fired because of his coverage of longtime Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler). Deitch says he was told he "had to go” a week after the acting general manager of the company instructed him to discontinue coverage of Metcalfe. Deitch alleges the lawmaker is a client of Eagle Media Corp., the parent company of The Butler Eagle.
“I refused to do so I told them 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,” Dietch tweeted. “Was then told to retract a recent story and I refused. Request a meeting, hear nothing fired.”
Vernon Wise, president of the Eagle Media Corp., said in a release that it made the decision to “part ways,” with Deitch, saying Deitch oversaw many positive changes at the outlet, including the paper's recent redesign.
As of 1015 this morning I am no longer the editor of the @PGHCityPaper i was told I “had to go.” 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.
— Charlie Deitch (@CharlieDee71) May 15, 2018
Wise wrote in a release that Rob Rossi, whose latest column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review appeared online May 8, will replace Deitch. Rossi covered Pittsburgh Penguins hockey for many years and has served as a Trib columnist since February when he formally resigned from 535 Media, an affiliate of Trib parent company Trib Total Media.
“We are very excited for the future of CP and feel like we have a team in place that will help to move CP into a future where we can encompass all of Pittsburgh, with a renewed focus on neighborhoods, the arts, food and drink, and of course, local news,” Wise said in the release.
Wise could not immediately be reached for comment, but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Deitch's termination was not connected to his coverage of Metcalfe. Eagle Media Corp. purchased City Paper in 2016.
Dietch said he has not spoken to Rossi, and that up until last week, the paper's owners never told him to exclude anyone from the outlet's coverage. He said he's proud of the paper's reporting, but also noted that if owners are now directing news coverage, "it's not really somewhere I can work."
City Paper recently wrote an editorial condemning Metcalfe's use of his committee chairmanship. The editorial describes calling out Metcalfe's "nonsense over the course of the past decade" a full-time job. The piece went on to describe the Butler County Republican as using his seat to "block any bill he doesn't believe in from reaching the house floor for a vote."
The op-ed calls for Metcalfe to be removed from his committee chair immediately, and from his office in November.
UPDATED: 4:36 P.M. Tuesday, May 15, 2018, to include comment from Dietch.