It was announced yesterday that David Shribman, Executive Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 16 years, will be stepping down when the year ends. This is an abrupt advancement of Mr. Shribman’s retirement; he was expected to step down next August to take a position at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He will now hold a post at Carnegie Mellon University from January through August. Mr. Shribman earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his reporting on politics while at the Boston Globe, and was asked to serve as the Post-Gazette’s Executive Editor in 2002. Mr. Shribman is said to see the paper’s coverage of the Tree of Life massacre this October as a fitting endpoint for his tenure at the Post-Gazette.
Outside observers had noticed rising tensions between the Post-Gazette’s reporters and newsroom staff, and the publisher of the paper, John Robinson Block. Mr. Shribman served as a buffer for the two, and the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh reacted with dismay yesterday morning when news of Mr. Shribman stepping down became public. He was seen as someone who was capable of working with the increasingly conservative Mr. Block while still protecting reporters’ interests. Whoever serves as his replacement will face the weighty task of reviving a declining newspaper, balancing a liberal city and a conservative publisher, and fighting for protections for the paper’s reporters. Not many will be up to the task.