Let’s Give a Warm Philadelphia Welcome to New Inquirer Sports Editor Michael Huang

from Linkedin

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a new Sports Editor.

That’s according to them:

Michael Huang, a New Jersey native and deputy editor at ESPN.com, will join The Philadelphia Inquirer as managing editor for sports on April 19, senior vice president and editor Gabriel Escobar announced Monday.

Huang, 50, who grew up in Parsippany, N.J., brings more than 25 years of sports media experience to The Inquirer, where he will oversee the publication’s sports coverage.

“Philadelphia is one of the, if not the, most passionate fan bases in the country,” Huang said. “I think that The Inquirer has done a tremendous job over the course of almost 200 years of history … covering all of its teams. So, what I’d like to do is, under my leadership, is to come in and continue that brand of excellence — number one — but then also maybe introduce some things that can help the newspaper become one of the foremost digital platforms that Philadelphia fans can come to for their news.”

There’s the word “digital” again.

They made it a focus when posting the job opening, noting that they were looking for someone who could expand “our online audience by developing and implementing a comprehensive digital coverage strategy.”

Huang replaces Pat McLoone, who was forced out after the resignation of Editor Stan Wischnowski. That was a result of the newsroom revolt following publication of the Buildings Matter, Too headline, which then led to an internal reckoning within the company, as employees alleged the entire operation was too old, too white, and too male.

That was confirmed by an audit commissioned by the Inquirer and conducted by Temple researchers, who noted that the entirety of the sports desk was male. The last female reporters working in sports were Sarah Todd, who departed for the Deseret News about two years ago, and Erin McCarthy, who was later moved to the news department.

So with Huang’s hire, in comes a 25-year sports veteran who spent almost 10 years at ESPN and 11 years with the Chicago Cubs. He has a Master’s Degree from DePaul University and is described in the Inquirer story as the son of Taiwanese immigrants, so obviously a hire like this one would help address the diversity concerns noted in the Temple report.

To be blunt, the Inquirer could not hire another white dude to run the sports department. I know the situation is borderline taboo and kind of awkward, but we’ll discuss it in this space, since nobody else will.

The problem is that there’s no easy fix. You can’t just say, “well we’re gonna fire half the sports department and hire new people.” In that case, you’ve got qualified employees with union protections who have done an admirable job in their various roles. All you can really do is wait for openings, or propose a few buyouts, and then try to add diversity where possible. Certainly, a struggling newspaper is not going to add jobs. And most people are not willingly leaving their prestigious gigs with legacy media outlets, though some are aware enough to see the writing on the wall and ride off into the sunset with their severance package. Otherwise, addressing diversity issues is a matter of attrition.

Anyway, let’s give a warm Philadelphia welcome to Michael Huang. He’s got a tall task ahead of him, but on paper his resume is stellar and could be the guy to lead the Inky into a new digital world.

He’s it baby!