Journalists at The Philadelphia Inquirer staged a partial walkout Thursday in outrage at a headline over the George Floyd protests that twisted the name of the group Black Lives Matter to read, “Buildings Matter, Too.”
“On June 4, we’re calling in sick and tired,” stated a letter signed by at least 44 “Journalists of Color of The Philadelphia Inquirer.”
“Sick and tired of pretending things are OK,” added the letter, tweeted by many of those stating they were staying home in protest. “The carelessness of our leadership makes it harder to do our jobs, and at worst puts our lives at risk.”
The headline — comparing the vandalism to buildings to the international outrage sparked by police-custody deaths — appeared on page 12 of Wednesday’s print edition.
“We should not have printed it,” the paper’s editors wrote in an “apology to our readers and Inquirer employees” late Wednesday, conceding it was “deeply offensive.”
“We’re sorry, and regret that we did,” continued the apology, signed by Editor Gabriel Escobar, Managing Editor Patrick Kerkstra and Executive Editor Stan Wischnowski.
“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.
“While no such comparison was intended, intent is ultimately irrelevant.”
The trio admitted, “This incident makes clear that changes are needed, and we are committing to start immediately.”
By Thursday, the headline had been changed online to now read, “Damaging buildings disproportionately hurts the people protesters are trying to uplift.”
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