'Philadelphia Inquirer' Changes Some Journalistic Practices To Become An 'Anti-Racist' Paper

The Philadelphia Inquirer has made changed its coverage of race, after a year-long review of its practices. 

The analysis was prompted by a headline published last June 2: “Buildings Matter, Too.” 

“If printing those words in 72-point type had occurred in a vacuum, it would have been a grievous and unpardonable offense,” writes Elizabeth H. Hughes, publisher-CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer

 “That it was published at a moment of national reckoning over social justice — prompted by the vicious murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police a year ago yesterday — amplified the outrage and brought us well-deserved scorn and scrutiny,” Hughes continues.  

Like many big-city dailies, the Inquirer has overemphasized crime and been racially insensitive in its coverage, Hughes said. 



Roughly 80 team members, more than one-third of the newsroom staff, met weekly in working groups in an effort to make the Inquirer “an anti-racist news organization,” Hughes adds. All of their suggestions were adopted.  

Specifically, the Inquirer has 

  • Produced an anti-racism workflow guide that provides specific questions reporters and editors should ask themselves at various stages of the journalistic process.  
  • Established a Community News Desk to address shortcomings in how the paper portrays Philadelphia communities, “which have often been stigmatized by coverage that over-emphasizes crime,” Hughes writes. 
  • Created an internal forum for journalists to seek guidance on potentially sensitive content and to make anti-racism central to their journalism. 
  • Commissioned an independent audit that resulted in a critical assessment of the paper’s journalism. Many recommendations are being addressed, and a process for tracking progress is being developed. 
  • Trained staff and managers on how to spot and avoid cultural bias. 
  • Examined the Inquirer’s crime and criminal justice coverage with Free Press, a nonprofit focused on racial justice in media. 
  • Set diversity goals for 2021 regarding promotions, hiring, and representation in leadership. 
  • Established a formal process that will allow certain types of stories to be rendered harder to find in online searches.  

Hughes concedes: “There is something of a playbook whenever a self-inflicted crisis like this threatens to define any institution and the people who work for it,” Hughes writes of the offending June 2 headline. “And so it played out here. Apologies were issued, a change in newsroom leadership was announced, earnest promises of reform and redress were made.”

Other newsrooms are doubtless conducting analyses of this sort, to one degree or another. They do so in a heavily politicized time, when newspapers are fighting for their survival.  

“A lot remains to be done — and there are likely challenges ahead that we can’t anticipate,” Hughes says. “But if reckoning requires a commitment to change and a clear path to reach it, then I hope you agree that our progress in the last year is tangible proof of both.” 

1 comment about "'Philadelphia Inquirer' Changes Some Journalistic Practices To Become An 'Anti-Racist' Paper".
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  1. Mark Dubis from The Dubis Group, May 27, 2021 at 10:01 a.m.

    Looks like they have gone full "WOKE" and tossed aside what true journalism and reporting the news means.  Instead of hiring the most qualified people for the job they will lower those standards for having a better mix of skin color in the newsroom.  Forget the truth, they'll now be writing about "their progressive version" of the truth.  One more nail in the coffin of a Free and Unbiased Press in America. 

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