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The Blade journalists forego reporter bylines following ethics concerns; Block family member resigns arts commission post after social media backlash

The journalists union doesn't believe management is allowing them to report ethically on the Capitol breach. They're protesting by pulling their names from articles.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Just a day after it was learned that journalists at the Toledo Blade would be taking down their names from the publication for the rest of the week, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement that's tied to part of the journalists' concerns.  

The byline strike comes after what some of the journalists there call censorship of their reporting on the U.S. Capitol breach and after a Facebook post by a member of a powerful family in Toledo, which upset journalists at the city's largest newspaper.

On Friday, that family member turned in her resignation as a state-appointed member of the Ohio Arts Council.

DeWine said on Friday, "Today I accepted the resignation of Susan Allan Block from the Ohio Arts Council." 

The message from Susan Allan Block, wife of Block Communications' Allan Block, reads "NO PEACE! NO UNITY! NO CONCESSION! NO LEGITIMACY TO A STOLEN ELECTION!" It was posted on Facebook a day after rioters took over the U.S. Capitol.

She goes on to use a sexual slur to describe Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Credit: Susan Allan Block (via Facebook)

Block is a former board member of Block Communications, a company her family owns. Block Communications runs the Toledo Blade.

Toledo Blade journalist and union president Nolan Rosenkrans says the post is evidence of the paper censoring journalists.

"There was an edict that came down that said we were not to refer to the insurrection that came on as Trump supporters or Trump protesters in headlines online. And we really strongly believe the reason for this was to create doubt in who was participating in it," Rosenkrans said.

Rosenkrans says journalists at the paper will be publishing their stories this week without their names in the byline, in a move showing reporters are dedicated to keeping people informed but they don't support the Block family's position.

"We're not going to be quiet about any of this. If they would just let us do our jobs, none of these things would be a problem, but they refuse to allow us to act as ethical journalists when they don't agree with us," Rosenkrans said.

WTOL reporter Emma Henderson reached out to Susan's brother-in-law and current publisher of The Blade, John Block.

He refused to comment on the Facebook post, but notes he edited the paper for years and says he grew up without reporter bylines on stories. 

"We know they don't care about what the citizens of Toledo think about anything. This is not an attempt to change their mind. This is a message to the community that we are here to do our jobs even if that means we have to operate under this horrendous environment that we operate under," Rosenkrans said.

The Blocks are often involved in Toledo community fundraisers and Susan Allan Block was until Friday a member of the Ohio Arts Council.

On Thursday, spokesperson for the council sent us this statement: "The Ohio Arts Council staff does not comment on the personal opinions of its board members. They were not made on behalf of the agency, and they do not pertain to the agency or its mission."

However after Susan Allan Block resigned, the council amended their statement and sent the following: 

"As I shared yesterday, agency staff does not comment on the personal opinions of its sitting board members. However, Susan is no longer on the board, so let me now say this: Our agency does not condone or endorse these inflammatory opinions in any way, and we will continue to work in alignment with our shared values of diversity, equity, and inclusivity," said Donna S. Collins, executive director of the Ohio Arts Council  

The Block Communications legal team sent us the following statement on Thursday:

"Social media posts by Susan Block represent her individual views as a private citizen; she has a first amendment right to freedom of speech and her opinions.  Her views do not represent those of Block Communications, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Susan Block is not an employee, shareholder, or Director of Block Communications, Inc. or any of its affiliates."

Susan Allan Block has since made her social media profiles private.

There have been calls on social media for people to boycott The Blade.

Rosenkrans says he believes unsubscribing to The Blade will only hurt the journalists and says people who are upset need to reach out to the Blocks directly.

We must note, The Blade Guild is currently in contract negotiations with the company.

The union held a news conference Friday to address the situation.

Stay tuned on air, online and on our WTOL news app as we bring you the latest about this developing story.

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