Over 30 Philadelphia Inquirer Employees Call in Sick in Protest After 'Buildings Matter Too' Headline

Liam McKeone
Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer / William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
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The Philadelphia Inquirer has upset a good number of its employees. The Huffington Post reports over 30 Inquirer journalists have called in sick to work today in protest over the decision to run the headline "Buildings Matter Too" in an article about the city's architecture getting defaced amidst protests.

The Inquirer faced immediate backlash both publicly and privately after the story ran, and editors published a subsequent apology. It was clearly not enough for the men and women who make up the newspaper's workforce. More than 30 staffers are refusing to work for the day, while over 40 at the time of writing have sponsored an open letter to the Inquirer's leadership about systemic racism, both in our country and in journalism itself. Seven journalists have gone on "byline strike," meaning they will write stories today but refuse to have their name attributed to any articles.

The group of staffers protesting reportedly includes employees from every level of the Inquirer: reporters, editors, social media editors, photographers. The Huffington Post acquired a full copy of the letter currently sponsored by 44 staff members, which can be read below:

"To the leadership of the Philadelphia Inquirer: As journalists of color, we do more than report on the community — we are the community. We do our best to give the community a platform to be heard. We strive to represent the voice of the people. And we are tired. We’re tired of hasty apologies and silent corrections when someone screws up. We’re tired of workshops and worksheets and diversity panels. We’re tired of working for months and years to gain the trust of our communities — communities that have long had good reason to not trust our profession — only to see that trust eroded in an instant by careless, unempathetic decisions. It’s no coincidence that communities hurt by systemic racism only see journalists in their neighborhoods when people are shot or buildings burn down. It takes commitment to correct and improve that relationship. It is an insult to our work, our communities, and our neighbors to see that trust destroyed—and makes us that much more likely to face threats and aggression. The carelessness of our leadership makes it harder to do our jobs, and at worst puts our lives at risk. We’re tired of shouldering the burden of dragging this 200-year-old institution kicking and screaming into a more equitable age. We’re tired of being told of the progress the company has made and being served platitudes about “diversity and inclusion” when we raise our concerns. 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. Things need to change. On June 4, we’re calling in sick and tired. Sick and tired of pretending things are OK. Sick and tired of not being heard. It is an act that pains us, knowing that now more than ever it is our duty and responsibility to uplift the marginalized voices of our community. But in this moment, it is more important for us to stand alongside those who have risen up against systemic racism and inequities and call on the Inquirer to do better. To be better. This is not the start of a conversation; this conversation has been started time and time again. We demand action. We demand a plan, with deadlines. We demand full, transparent commitment to changing how we do business. No more “handling internally.” No more quiet corrections. If we are to walk into a better world, we need to do it with our chests forward—acknowledge and accept where we make mistakes, and show how we learn from them. Your embarrassment is not worth more than our humanity. This is what it means to “give a damn.” Signed, Journalists of Color of The Philadelphia Inquirer"

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