Post-Gazette: Health system alleging 'slanted' coverage bars newspaper's sales at hospitals

A major health system has banned the sale of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from some of its hospital gift shops, accusing the newspaper of "slanted" coverage, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

At least three hospitals in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system have said they will no longer carry it, the Post-Gazette said.

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UPMC, in an internal note that went out Wednesday, accused the Post-Gazette of treating the medical system unfairly.

"The P-G's hostile editorials and insensitive cartoons have bled over into slanted news coverage," UPMC said.

UPMC did not address the gift shop ban in its note. But it did say it cannot support the Post-Gazette through advertising or subscriptions.

"The P-G has the right to print what it wants," UPMC said. "We have the right not to pay for it."

Executive editor David Shribman defended the newspaper.

"We believe that our coverage of UPMC has been fair-minded in every respect," he said.

UPMC operates more than 20 hospitals and has more than 60,000 employees.

The health system canceled its advertising in the Post-Gazette twice in recent years, citing dissatisfaction with its treatment on news pages, in editorials and in editorial cartoons, the newspaper said.

"The Post-Gazette is edited without regard to any special interest, and our news columns are not for sale, at any price," publisher John Robinson Block said.

The newspaper said UPMC has criticized it frequently over the years, most recently over its coverage of an ongoing contract battle with insurer Highmark.

UPMC cited several examples of coverage it said was unfair. It complained that a negative story about a competitor ran on the front page of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this month but only as a brief in the business section of the Post-Gazette. It also pointed to a series of editorial cartoons, including one on the Highmark dispute that seems to compare UPMC with the Islamic State group.

The Post-Gazette said the three hospitals where it can't sell newspapers are UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Mercy and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.