PHILADELPHIA — On Monday, more than 40 community organizations, social-justice groups and local leaders sent a letter urging the leadership of the Philadelphia Inquirer to transform its approach to covering Philadelphia’s diverse communities. The letter also calls on Inquirer leaders to significantly address diversity and equity issues within the paper's newsroom and corporate offices.
The letter, led by Free Press and Movement Alliance Project, sets forth a list of specific actions the Inquirer should take, including releasing audits of its newsroom, leadership, readership and advertiser demographics; instituting new guidelines about criminal-legal coverage that center the communities impacted; diversifying management in all departments; and creating a community-advisory board and public editor to ensure accountability.
The move comes as the Inquirer is planning to install a new executive editor after the departure of Stan Wischnowski following an uproar over the publication in early June of a story with a racist headline.
Free Press’ Philadelphia project manager, Tauhid Chappell, made the following statement:
“Today, we have a rare window of opportunity for Philadelphians to call on the paper of record to center community voices within its journalism, shift its coverage away from police narratives and address longstanding diversity and equity issues within its newsroom and leadership.
“Holding Inquirer leadership accountable for a racist headline is just the beginning. The newspaper must adopt crucial reforms to guide its coverage of diversity and equity, and it must invite local community leaders and all Philadelphians to take part in this much-needed transformation.
“The Inquirer is a public-benefit corporation. Its future rests on nurturing deep relationships with the community while instilling a community-first, anti-racist philosophy throughout the newsroom. We stand ready to work with the Inquirer to implement these practices and to help restore public trust in the newspaper at a time when it needs it most.”