Journalists of color and allies staged a one-day “call out sick and tired” at the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, protesting an abysmal, offensive headline that appeared in Wednesday’s print edition that said, “Buildings Matter, Too,” in reference to looting and damage done by rioting in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
A statement to the leadership of the paper, signed by 44 journalists, demanded immediate reform:
“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.”
The Inquirer admitted its mistake and changed the online version of the headline: “Damaging buildings disproportionately hurts the people protesters are trying to uplift.”
“We should not have printed it,” the paper’s editors wrote on Wednesday. “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.”
Mainstream media has been guilty of covering up police violence, painting a picture of cops trying to control widespread looting when far too often, peaceful protesters have been antagonized and brutalized. That includes countless attacks on media members.
The picture above this story shows Philadelphia police in riot gear and on horseback standing idly by as rowdy people team up to pull over a large cement plant holder.
Why aren’t the police beating them with batons and shields, firing rubber bullets at them or using tear gas to get them to disperse?
It’s because they’re Eagles fans celebrating after winning the Super Bowl in 2018. Worldwide media ran reports of horrific scenes as Eagles fans set fires and destroyed property, even rioting in a “clash with police.”
That was the least of the damage done to the city, as fans looted a gas station, fires raged, cars were flipped. One of the most iconic moments was a scene of fans collapsing the awning of the Ritz Carlton. The funny thing is that fans, media and even the police and mayor downplayed the incidents.
The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the celebrations were largely peaceful. In that same Inky article, Police Commissioner Richard Ross said:
“After a while you do have to relinquish the street, provided people are being peaceful,” Ross said. “You’re going to create more havoc trying to [stop them], and you have to have somewhere for people to go.”
On Monday, Philadelphia police used tear gas on a huge crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters on I-676, despite no evidence of violence by the group.
An Inquirer’s headline on the police violence on these protesters was absurdly apologetic: Philly mayor, police say tear gas was u sed as ‘last resort’ on protesters; others question tactics and call for reform.
While the Inquirer editors say they are reviewing their policies on vetting and flagging sensitive issues, it’s clear that they, along with many in media, must re-examine how they approach covering police-sourced stories.