We demand change.

Philadelphia deserves better.

On June 3, 2020, the day after The Philadelphia Inquirer’s disastrous “Buildings Matter, Too” headline, 44 journalists of color called out sick and tired of the paper’s enduring failure to accurately report about nonwhite communities.

“We demand action. We demand a plan, with deadlines. We demand full, transparent commitment to changing how we do business.”

June 3 Open letter from journalists of color at The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is now part of a national reckoning on how newsrooms treat their employees of color and how they cover communities of color. Our industry has routinely and systematically lessened the experiences and perspectives of people of color, undervalued the work of women, and used bureaucracy as a crutch to avoid changes of substance.

As a public benefit corporation, the Inquirer is accountable not only to its employees, but to everyone in the Philadelphia region.

We already know what changes are necessary. On June 8, we sent Inquirer leadership a list of actions they can immediately take to reduce racial inequity. The newspaper has taken steps toward implementing some of these solutions but has dismissed others.

To that end, we have created this site to document what the company is and is not doing to address the concerns raised by its journalists of color. We will update this site if and when The Inquirer makes progress.

Contents

Five actions: status & progress

Diversity at The Inquirer

Open letters

Contact us

Five actions: status & progress

On June 8, we released a letter detailing five immediate actions for the company to take toward becoming a more equitable newsroom. Here’s how it’s going.

1. We must have a seat at the table if someone will replace [former Executive Editor] Stan [Wischnowski].
REJECTED

Company leaders say they have not yet decided whether the role of executive editor will be filled. When we asked the publisher to commit to giving journalists of color a role in the hiring or shaping of this role, they said no.

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2. We must conduct a pay equity study to identify disparities by race and gender and fix them.
PAY STUDY IN PROGRESS; NO COMMITMENT TO PAY EQUALITY

We called for a pay study so The Inquirer can identify and address existing disparities — as well as their root causes. A recent study commissioned by the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia found serious pay gaps at The Inquirer, including that the average newsroom salary of women of color in the union was nearly $10,000 less than the average of all its newsroom members.

The Inquirer has hired an outside firm to conduct a pay equity study, but the publisher refused to commit in advance to resolve any inequities when asked, saying they wanted to wait and see the study’s results first. And many questions remain about the study.

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3. We must undertake a comprehensive review of our coverage, past and present, and commit to more equitable treatment.
COVERAGE AUDIT IN PROGRESS

We need an honest review of our coverage, so we can understand where we are and improve in the future. The Inquirer has commissioned an audit from Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, and several Inquirer staff members are on a committee to help guide this process.

The audit will look for patterns of bias in how different demographic groups are represented in six weeks’ worth of randomly selected dates over the past year. Temple faculty members will interview newsroom staffers and observe planning meetings to examine how The Inquirer produces news and whether and how its workflows and assumptions contribute to coverage biases.

READ MORE

4. We must undergo substantive training for everyone in the newsroom.
SOME TRAINING IN PROGRESS

The Inquirer is continuing with training from the Maynard Institute, which was already underway early in the year.

It’s unclear what additional training will take place beyond this cultural competency training. It’s also unclear whether and how the training has been changed since this moment of reckoning began, revealing deeper problems than Inquirer leadership had previously acknowledged.

READ MORE

5. We must commit to adding an editor of color to every desk in the newsroom.
NO COMMITMENT

The Inquirer has far too few editors of color. We must add more – prioritizing Black editors and journalists in particular — until we have added to every reporting team in the newsroom.

But when asked, company leaders say they will not hire additional editors of color unless existing positions open up, citing ongoing financial losses.

Of course, journalists of color can be promoted within the newsroom. This commitment does not necessarily mean hiring new employees for each desk or reporting team. Nor does it come with a specific timeline or quota — only a commitment to diversifying The Inquirer’s ranks until we add an editor of color to every team.

READ MORE

Diversity at The Inquirer

We cannot properly represent our community if our newsroom, leadership, and audience don’t reflect the diversity of our community.

Many other news organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and all Gannett-owned papers, voluntarily publish staff demographic information as part of public diversity reports. The Inquirer has so far not done so.

We have compiled available newsroom diversity data, and we continue to call on The Inquirer to independently publish these numbers, along with audience and subscriber demographics.

These numbers only tell part of the story. For instance:

  • The Inquirer has no Black and/or Latinx journalists covering health, science, and local or state politics full-time.
  • The Inquirer does not have a single full-time opinion editor or writer who is a man of color.
  • The Inquirer has zero investigative reporters and editors of color.

This is how we know who makes The Inquirer and whom The Inquirer is made for. As a news organization committed to the public interest, we must be accountable to the public, and that means being transparent about whom we serve.

Open letters

We believe you should know where we stand, so here are all the letters we’ve sent to The Inquirer leadership and newsroom.

Contact us

Have questions or feedback? Here’s where to find The Inquirer’s journalists of color who created this website.