The top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer has stepped down from his role after the newspaper published an article with the headline “Buildings Matter, Too,” last week, according to an internal memo sent to newsroom staff and obtained by CNN.
Stan Wischnowski, has worked for the Inquirer for 20 years and has been its executive editor for a decade, according to the memo from publisher Lisa Hughes. He is also senior vice president.
Wischnowski’s last day will be June 12, Hughes said in the memo.
A successor for the executive editor position has not been named.
Wischnowski’s resignation follows uproar from Inquirer staff over the headline of an article published on Tuesday about concerns that historical buildings could be damaged during protests over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
Wischnowski declined to comment to the Inquirer for its story announcing his resignation and has not responded an emailed request from CNN for comment.
Journalists called out sick in protest
More than 40 journalists of color at the newspaper called out sick on Thursday, according to organizers of the sick out.
The 44 journalists signed an open letter to their editors explaining their decision to call out “sick and tired.” They said they have spent “months and years” trying to gain the public’s trust only to have it “eroded in an instant by careless, unempathetic decisions.”
Wischnowski, along with the Inquirer’s editor Gabriel Escobar and managing editor Patrick Kerkstra, signed an apology following the action from staff.
Paper reviewing headline process
The senior editors said in the apology that the headline was “unacceptable” despite having gone through the process for editing and headline writing.
“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,” the editors wrote in the apology.
The paper will review the process to “implement safeguards to flag sensitive content and prevent single-person publication,” the apology continued.
In a tweet Thursday the paper said the headline was “offensive, inappropriate” and should not have been printed.
“We will expand on our commitment to build a newsroom that better reflects the community it serves, with more recruiting resources and requirements for diverse finalist pools,” the apology said. “And we will define a process for flagging, discussing and publicly disclosing lapses in editorial judgment that aren’t addressed with a simple factual correction.”
Hughes said the paper will continue to look at its processes as it searches for a new executive editor. “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,” the memo from Hughes said.
The gaffe came the same week that the New York Times came under fire from some of its staffers for publishing an op-ed titled “Tom Cotton: Send In the Troops” by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, arguing the military should be sent to quell protests in cities and “restore order.”
The Times responded by adding an editor’s note which read, “After publication, this essay met strong criticism from many readers (and many Times colleagues), prompting editors to review the piece and the editing process. Based on that review, we have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”