The NewsGuild-CWA, the largest journalists’ union in the US, is asking the Justice Department’s antitrust division to look into Block Communications’ acquisition of the Pittsburgh City Paper, citing potential news market consolidation in the city.
“The NewsGuild-CWA urges the Department of Justice to investigate the competitive impact of this attempted consolidation of local news,” Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild of the Communications Workers of America, wrote in a Wednesday letter.
Earlier this year, Block Communications, which already owns the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, struck a deal to buy the weekly newspaper through a subsidiary.
The acquisition will restrict news workers’ mobility, Schleuss wrote. City Paper covered stories that were ignored by the Post-Gazette, he said in an interview.
Block Communications didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
Block, whose holdings also include several broadcast stations and broadband and cable providers, previously has bought and closed competitors to its newspapers, Schleuss wrote.
At the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 110 workers have been on strike for three months over health care premiums and Block’s refusal to bargain, Schleuss said in an interview.
Struggles among local news providers continue unabated. The US is losing local newspapers at a rate of two per week, a 2022 Northwestern University study found.
“The existence of pesky, small news outlets, daily or weekly, that cover issues not normally covered by the incumbent media improves the overall quality of news production for the entire local market,” Schleuss wrote.
The Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which is affiliated with the CWA, represents employees of Bloomberg Law.
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