The Inquirer finds itself at fault

A news story based on a report of racial imbalance at the Philadelphia Inquirer carefully avoids the word “racist,” which is the inescapable conclusion.

I know this will cheer critics of the newspaper, who are numerous here. No accusation of racism ever cheers me, but it does make me think the Inquirer — and its employees — have lost the moral ground to ever again point the finger of racism at anyone else. Hel-lo editorial writers.

I normally would have a lot to say about how the Inquirer takes care of business, but upon my retirement I signed an agreement that prohibits me from disparaging the newspaper or its management. I also have a defamation law suit against the newspaper and staffer Inga Saffron.

With that said, I think I am entitled to urge anyone reading the critique, or the published account, to pay more attention to the regional demographic figures, which are less damning than the Philadelphia contrasts. Fair is fair and the Inquirer is a regional newspaper. Its demographics should be measured against the region, not just the city.

News coverage can’t, and shouldn’t, be apportioned on the basis of race, or any other superficial (or social) measure. Impact on readers is the most important measure. More white people are mentioned in the “news” because the business and power structure is majority white because of historical development. Yes, for centuries America has been led by white males, that is not in dispute. That was true here and almost everywhere else. They are still a majority of decision-makers, although that is slowly changing.

Black business gets covered less because there is less Black business. That is not the fault of the Inquirer. 

The report says the paper fails to retain people of color. Well, some may leave out of frustration, while others leave for better jobs. How can you stop people from leaving? It’s not a plantation. Really, it is not.

For example, it was just announced Black staff writer Brandon T. Harden is leaving for a better job at BusinessInsider. I knew him just to say hello to, but he seemed like a happy dude.

Isolated fragments do not always present a fair picture.

There are three metro columnists — the term used for staffers in the highly prized position who get to write opinions about local issues. Of the three, only one is white; none are male. Two-thirds are women of color.

I was the last metro columnist who did not fit that description.

Not complaining, just observing.

Do the metro columnists offset the all-white investigations team?

The inquirer itself commissioned the study of the newsroom and newspaper coverage. I would have liked to see a racial breakdown of newspaper subscribers, as well. Maybe next time.

On a related note, at the start of this month, the newspaper shut down online comments on stories, except for sports.

The reason the editors gave? The comments were too racist and toxic. 

And they used to think my column was bad? 

15 thoughts on “The Inquirer finds itself at fault”

  1. Hey, Stu, “….hit ’em with your best shot. Fire away!” Even though I read the Inqy daily, much (probably) to the consternation of most here, it’s a way to keep up with local goings-on and more. I just have to apply the hairy eyeball to much of the information.

  2. The word racist is thrown in any direction to cease debate or hint that the person’s point of view must be devalued because of being racist. Maybe the environment at the Inquirer is Toxic because a new Editor has to arbitrate the different points of view with a large part based on the background of the reporter or journalist. A perception based on place of birth, schooling, and family traditions can influence the position of the employee especially how they see the world they are to examine and write about. I have no love for the Inquirer but I wish I had the opportunity to interview an aspirant for a reporter’s job just to have a feeling of what would be the basis of their thought process. I wonder if they enter with a similar agenda as their editor does that affect the hire or is the choice of the most qualified by background and education rather than gender or race? On a strictly prejudicial side, I hope to toast to a civil case victory to a former employee who shall remain unnamed.

  3. haha! i loved the ending. “and they used to think MY column was bad!” stu, who cannot read you and see things from another perspective? honestly.

  4. It is a shanda (complete disgrace) on the citizens of Greater Philadelphia that the Inquirer has a monopoly on hardcopy daily local, national and international headlines and news hitting people’s driveway each morning. A large American city should not have but one big daily newspaper.. Conservatives must see to this, even if it has to run at a loss. Awakening people and hence cutting into the ludicrously lopsided Philadelphia vote could make Pennsylvania politically competitive next time..

  5. Stu, if ever there is a time for  schadenfreude (love this word), you are justified for feeling so, as I do today having read of Trump’s defense presentation yesterday. 😁 

  6. If they want to measure their racial balance using the REGION, then they should change their name from PHILADELPHIA Inquirer to DELAWARE VALLEY Inquirer.

  7. Every morning I come down to my kitchen and go to the Inquirer’s website and wonder how they’ll be insulting me that day. Yet I still shell out $25 a month for that privilege instead of finding a way to read it for free. There are a couple of business column writers who I respect and appreciate their partnership with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on state-level issues but the rest is just leftist drivel. The fact that they dumped Dom G. and Christina Flowers (both right wing loudmouths but at least right wing) tells me that they don’t want any right-leaning readership, yet I still can’t unsubscribe. I need help.

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