STAN WISCHNOWSKI, THE TOP EDITOR AT THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER RESIGNS AMID "BUILDINGS MATTER TOO" HEADLINE.
By: Richard Prince, Journal-isms (N2Entertainment.net)
Stan Wischnowski, the top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently announced his resignation. It came after discontent among the newspaper’s staff who erupted over a headline on a column about the impact of the civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” Craig R. McCoy reported for the Inquirer.
“Wischnowski, 58, led the paper over two turbulent periods in recent years, driving it; its sister paper, the Daily News; and its website, Inquirer.com, to reshape themselves as the digital age transformed the news business.
He was key in the creation of Spotlight PA, a new multi-reporter team to provide news outlets across Pennsylvania with investigative coverage of state government. He also was in charge in 2011 when The Inquirer investigated violence within Philadelphia schools, a series awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“In a statement, publisher Lisa Hughes said that Wischnowski ‘has decided to step down as senior vice president and executive editor.’ She thanked him for his 20 years working at the paper and serving as executive editor. “He will formally leave the paper on June 12. No successor was named, but Hughes wrote to the staff that "We will use this moment to evaluate the organizational structure and processes of the newsroom, assess what we need, and look both internally and externally for a seasoned leader who embodies our values, embraces our shared strategy, and understands the diversity of the communities we serve. . . .”
McCoy also wrote, “It was the placement of an insensitive headline over Inga Saffron’s column in the Tuesday newspaper that may have set the stage for Wischnowski’s departure. He joined the two other top editors in signing an apology to readers and staff, characterizing the headline, ‘Buildings Matter, Too,’ as ‘deeply offensive’ and apologizing for it. The column had explored the destruction of buildings amid the looting that accompanied some of the nationwide protests over police violence.
“Even before the headline was published, Wischnowski and other editors had scheduled a staffwide Zoom meeting to discuss race at The Inquirer and the pressures in particular faced by journalists of color.
“Wischnowski, low-key and measured, as is his personality, told staffers that the paper had made strides in diversifying its 213-member newsroom, boosting minority representation to 27 percent of the editorial workforce, about a doubling in four years. He promised more such hires. “The session turned intense and emotional. Some journalists could be seen in tears in their Zoom frames.
Critics, black and white, denounced the pace of change at the paper, sharply criticizing both coverage and the racial and gender mix of the staff. Several journalists pointed out that the newspaper could muster only one male African American reporter to cover the protests and police response convulsing a city that is majority minority.
“Hours after the wrenching Zoom session, about 50 journalists of color signed an open letter calling for faster changes at the paper. The following day, most of the minority staff took the day off from work in protest. . . .”
On Sunday, publisher Lisa Hughes wrote the staff “While we strive to produce reporting that shines a spotlight on the systemic racism throughout our community, we must also be willing to critically evaluate our own internal failures. . . It is clear that we need to make changes, and I have asked Lauren Kauffman and Michael Days to put together a plan with recommendations within the next 50 days. Kaufmann is vice president, people and culture at Philadelphia Media and Days is vice president for diversity and inclusion at the Inquirer.
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