Philadelphia Inquirer's Top Editor Resigns After Publishing of Controversial Headline
Rough couple of days for the Inquirer.
Executive Editor and Senior Vice President Stan Wischnowski submitted his resignation this weekend amid the fallout from a headline that was published on Tuesday.
Long story short, architecture critic Inga Saffron wrote an article about property destruction that came with a headline titled “Buildings Matter, Too,” written by a copy desk editor and not her. The story was fine but the headline was totally obliterated on social media and other platforms, resulting in a scheduled Zoom call turning into an open forum on what staffers allege is general malpractice, not enough diversity, and a lack of understanding from newspaper leadership. Thursday, a large number of Inquirer employees called out of work while circulating a public note expressing disapproval with the current state of the publication.
Wischnowski explained that the headline should not have been published, and the Inquirer issued a formal apology. But now he’s out the door for good, according to an article published Saturday:
In a statement Saturday afternoon, publisher Lisa Hughes said that Wischnowski “has decided to step down as senior vice president and executive editor.” She thanked him for his 20 years working at the paper and serving as executive editor.
He will formally leave the paper on June 12. No successor was named, but Hughes wrote to the staff that “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.
“While we conduct this evaluation and search, I am confident in [editor] Gabe Escobar and [managing editor] Patrick Kerkstra’s ability to continue to lead our newsroom in their current roles.”
Wischnowski declined comment. Hughes, through a spokesperson, said she would have no further comment.
It’s been quite the ride for the Inquirer in recent weeks, months, and years.
The newspaper recently cut half of its sales staff and has struggled to secure subscriptions during a time in which legacy media is trying to navigate COVID-19 and a shift to digital news consumption. Veterans like Bob Ford and Sam Donnellon and John Smallwood took buyouts while Zach Berman left the paper to join The Athletic. Additionally, former columnist Stu Bykofsky filed a defamation lawsuit against Saffron after she ripped him at his farewell party, issuing criticisms that he claimed were a “sack of shit lie.”
Interesting times at the Inquirer, which still has a lot of skilled writers doing fantastic work. Unfortunately that work is perpetually buried by the seemingly high level of discord both internal and external.