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?