Flyers GM Danny Briere was on the 94 WIP morning show on Wednesday.

He said this in response to the viral video in which a team employee disparaged the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Giana Han:

If you didn’t see it, I will provide the CliffsNotes once again:

  1. media was doing a video call with new signing Garnet Hathaway
  2. the call was being streamed live by Flyers staffers
  3. Han asked Hathaway a rudimentary question about why he wanted to play here
  4. on a hot microphone, a Flyers employee says “How many times is she gonna ask this fucking question?”
  5. at the end of the clip, a second Flyers employee mocks the question, saying in a sardonic fashion, “The Flyers suck, why do you want to be here?”

Here’s the video once again as a refresher:

The Flyers apologized for the employee conduct in a statement attributed to Keith Jones, who recently took over as President of Hockey Ops.

What’s interesting is that a lot of Flyers fans do not seem to care about these comments at all. Not one iota. They agree with this person in believing that it was a basic question. They don’t like the media or don’t give a shit about the media. They care about hockey. Fair enough.

But one of the sidebar topics that people are afraid to talk about is the Inquirer’s new approach to hockey coverage. My take is that leadership deserves criticism for putting Giana Han in a difficult position.

Allow me to explain –

Han graduated from Penn State University in 2019. She joined the Inquirer in July of 2021 after two years covering Auburn sports for AL.com. Nothing on her LinkedIn page suggests that she had any experience covering hockey, let alone in a major market for a major media outlet.

The Inquirer, at the time, had recently bought out half of the sports department following the employee revolt that took place at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. The paper commissioned a study from Temple University, which revealed the staff was too old, too white, and not representative of the Philadelphia region. As a result, Inquirer leadership made it a point to hire young women and men of color in order to act on the Temple report and make the necessary changes. Additionally, sources told Crossing Broad that they were interested in compiling an all-female hockey staff.

The result was an overcorrection of sorts, in which they succeeded in diversifying but took on the risk of compromising the actual sports coverage. They hired people not primarily based on their resumes, but because they looked a certain way, which is another way of saying that these were diversity hires. That is a fact. Nobody should beat around the bush or be afraid to use the term “diversity hires,” because the Inquirer straight up admitted this, citing the employee revolt and Temple study as the catalyst. They were, to their credit, very transparent about it.

But in this case specifically, they threw a young woman, in her early 20s, right into a challenging beat, during a challenging season, to write for a challenging fan base. Then the Flyers hired the most notoriously challenging coach of the last 25 years. Talk about jumping right into it. If you’re going to buy out Sam Carchidi and Sam Donnellon, so be it, but the Inquirer had Han learn a new beat and new sport on the fly, with no prior interaction with the parochial and hardcore Flyers supporter base and no institutional knowledge of the game.

As a result, you get situations like what happened on Tuesday’s video call, where employees are snickering behind a hot mic because they don’t think she’s good at her job.

Now that’s not to say that Han can’t learn the sport, improve her journalism chops, or claim a foothold on the Flyers beat, because she may indeed have that innate talent and solidify her place in this market sooner rather than later. Don’t read this as any criticism of her, because it’s certainly not her fault. She was offered a great job and took that great job, like anybody would have. I just think it’s shitty that the Inquirer brought in a bunch of people to fill a quota, pinned that diversity hire Scarlet Letter on them, then more or less fed these newcomers to the wolves, knowing that they did not have the requisite resume experience or knowledge. Inquirer leaders, if they actually knew this market (or lived in it full time), had to have known that you can’t just hire anyone and toss them out there and expect things to simply continue where they left off. Back in the day, you needed 10 years minimum at some rag like the Altoona Mirror before a respected and high-level outlet like the Inquirer would even look at your resume. If you’re going to trivialize journalism experience, and make green hires under unique circumstances like this one, then you better make sure you’re not setting them up to fail.

EDIT – Something else that I think is interesting is the idea of leverage here. The Flyers should want a good relationship with the Inquirer. They gave Han and Olivia Reiner the Chuck Fletcher firing exclusive. Inky editors should try to turn this into something positive, like “your guy disparaged our reporter, we will agree not to issue a statement if you give us the next big trade” (or something like that)