The top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer resigned this week after a “Buildings Lives Matter, Too” sparked outrage inside the newsroom.
The headline chosen by Executive Editor Stan Wischnowski was for an article the Inquirer published on June 2 by Pulitzer Prize-winning resident architecture critic Inga Saffron who lamented the looting and property destruction in Philadelphia by people who were protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody, while saying that the anger that fueled the actions was “fully justified.”
“Hardly any building on Walnut and Chestnut Streets was left unscathed, and two mid-19th century structures just east of Rittenhouse Square were gutted by fire,” Saffron wrote.
“Their chances of survival are slim, which means there could soon be a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia, in one of its most iconic and historic neighborhoods,” said Saffron of the destruction.
That led Wischnowski to chose the headline “Buildings Matter, Too” headline to highlight that the destruction in Philadelphia would have long-lasting effects.
That’s when the cancel culture stepped in with its accusation that the Inquirer was equating the property destruction with the killing of Black Americans, forcing the paper to take action.
The Inquirer issued an apology to its readers which was signed by three editors including Wishnowski acknowledging that the headline “offensively riffed on the Black Lives Matter movement” and said it was “unacceptable,” and that the paper will review it’s editing process and implement safeguards to flag insensitive content.
That might have been enough for most readers, but forty-four journalists of color signed an open letter to the Inquirer’s leadership calling for more transparency on diversity problems at the paper.
In another era, Wischnowski might have survived his perceived mistake, but today there is no tolerance for anything that is remotely critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and its allies.