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Editor Resigns Over 'Buildings Matter' Headline

'Philadelphia Inquirer' journalists complain about equity, diversity issues
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2020 10:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Philadelphia Inquirer architectural critic's column, headlined "Buildings Matter, Too," stirred a staff walkout, a fiery internal debate about newsroom diversity, and has now cost the top editor his job. Stan Wischnowski's resignation was announced Saturday, the New York Times reports. He and other editors had posted an apology on the paper's website the day after the column appeared. "The headline offensively riffed on the Black Lives Matter movement, and suggested an equivalence between the loss of buildings and the lives of black Americans," the apology said. "That is unacceptable." The same day, "An Open Letter From Journalists of Color" at the paper promised a sick-out on Thursday; more than 40 staff members stayed away, per CNN. And a regular staff meeting evolved into a discussion lasting hours about issues of equity and diversity. "This week, the pain was just so palpable," said an Inquirer editor who heads the local newsroom union.

Saying "things need to change," the employees who signed the letter complained of receiving only platitudes when they raise concerns about progress in diversifying the staff and other issues. "We're tired of seeing our words and photos twisted to fit a narrative that does not reflect our reality. We're tired of being told to show both sides of issues there are no two sides of," the letter said. David Boardman, chairman of the nonprofit that controls the Inquirer, said Wischnowski achieved much in his 10 years in the job, but he acknowledged problems. "He leaves behind some decades-old, deep-seated and vitally important issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, issues that were not of his creation but that will likely benefit from a fresh approach," Boardman said. The paper said it will look at internal and external candidates for the job. (The city has removed a statue of a former mayor.)

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