Newspapers, once the bare-knuckled standard-bearers of journalism, are now being forced to cower and their editors to resign when their own staffers are triggered by the wording of headlines.
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, a top editor is quitting after a headline reading “Buildings Matter, Too,” criticizing the destruction of businesses amid protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, appeared in that paper.
Stan Wischnowski, 58, resigned June 6 as executive editor at the Inquirer, according to FOX News.
The day after the headline ran Wischnowski and other editors ran an apology on the paper’s website, calling their own work “offensive” and saying it never should have been published.
“The headline accompanied a story on the future of Philadelphia’s buildings and civic infrastructure in the aftermath of this week’s protests,” read the apology. “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. That is unacceptable.”
More than two dozen members of the Inquirer’s 210-member news staff called in sick earlier in the week, and black staffers condemned the headline, which topped an article about how buildings damaged in recent violence could forever change Philadelphia.
The more the Inquirer tried to appease those with hurt feelings, the deeper became the hole they were in. The headline was replaced online with one that read, “Black Lives Matter. Do Buildings?” Eventually, the newspaper went with “Damaging buildings disproportionately hurt the people protesters are trying to uplift.”
The backlash came as The New York Times was widely criticized for publishing an opinion piece by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., advocating the use of federal troops to quell the protests.
More than 800 Times employees signed a letter protesting the publication of the op-ed.