The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is cutting more print days in transition to “digital-only newspaper”

Updated 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27

Roughly a year after cutting its newspaper from seven days a week to five — and weeks after winning a Pulitzer — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is set to eliminate another two days from its print publishing schedule, a letter sent to representatives of the paper’s labor unions states.  

According to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Incline, the Post-Gazette will cut two more days from its printing schedule on Sept. 30, 2019. That brings the paper’s printed edition down to just three days a week. 

The letter announcing another round of print day cuts was dated July 17 and received by representatives of the paper’s labor unions on Thursday. It was signed by senior HR manager Linda Guest. Guest declined comment when reached by The Incline Thursday evening. Executive Editor Keith Burris was unavailable for comment, per a receptionist. 

Guest’s letter doesn’t say which additional days will be cut in September (Update: It’s been confirmed that Monday and Wednesday print editions will be eliminated) but portrays the move as part and parcel of the PG’s planned transition to “a digital-only newspaper,” all but guaranteeing more print day cuts in the future. 

The paper eliminated physical copies of its Tuesday and Saturday editions in August of last year. The Post-Gazette continues to publish daily on its website, apps, and social media platforms.

“I think this is going to be the death of their newspaper,” Joe Pass Sr., an attorney for the unions representing PG newsroom employees, teamsters, pressmen, and more, told The Incline.

There is no daily print newspaper in Pittsburgh anymore — a city that was until recently a two-newspaper town. The Trib scaled back operations and moved resources to Greensburg and Tarentum. Pittsburgh City Paper continues to print weekly, while the Pittsburgh Current prints every two weeks. The Pittsburgh Business Times offers print products, as well. The Post-Gazette remains the region’s largest news organization.

Pass said he’s unsure if the new print day cuts will have any impact on Post-Gazette staffing levels.

And with contract negotiations still ongoing between the paper’s owners and a number of employee unions, including the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents some 150 PG newsroom staffers, Pass said it’s unclear if the company could cut work days without incurring a labor law violation. 

The paper’s owners at Block Communications Inc. have repeatedly touted the paper’s growing digital emphasis as necessary given the changing tastes of news consumers and the financial constraints facing media companies like theirs. Last year the company launched an ad campaign aimed at raising awareness of the paper’s digital offerings and painting those offerings as easy to use and ideal for even the most ardent print consumer. 

Pass isn’t so sure. 

“You’re dealing with a community that is first of all aging, and lots of whom have become used to an actual newspaper in their hands, despite what those ads say. I think it’s very difficult for people to get used to it. I think it’s not going to happen.”

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the frequency of the Pittsburgh Current’s printing schedule. It is a bi-weekly newspaper.