A joint statement by AAJA Philadelphia, PABJ and the NAHJ Philadelphia chapter on the findings of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s diversity and inclusion audit:
The Philadelphia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists are disappointed — but not surprised — by the findings published in a diversity and inclusion audit of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage by Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication. The report found, among other things, that the people featured in the Inquirer were “overwhelmingly white and male.”
As the paper of record in Philadelphia, we expect the Inquirer to do better by the communities it serves. The current levels of coverage of Black Philadelphians, who made up 26.4% of all people featured in the audited stories despite constituting nearly 44% of the city’s population, are unacceptable, as are the low levels of coverage of Latinx and Asian subjects and communities. Compared to the city’s population, Latinx and Asian people were the most underrepresented in the paper, according to the audit.
This failure in coverage does not simply overlook our communities — it actively harms them. The Inquirer has a responsibility to cover communities of color fairly and consistently, and the audit reflects what many journalists of color in the city have known for a long time — that there is much room for improvement here.
We also want to stress the importance of increasing staff diversity at the Philadelphia Inquirer. There should not be any departments without any journalists of color, yet there continue to be. One of the audit’s findings was that teams with more diverse journalists wrote more frequently about people and communities of color. The Inquirer can build upon this by hiring and retaining more journalists of color through fair and equitable pay and treatment. The Inquirer must especially prioritize hiring and retaining Black journalists who currently make up 11% of the newsroom and are not represented on desks such as breaking news and investigations.
We acknowledge that completing the audit and making the findings public is a step in the right direction. We also want to emphasize the importance of coming back to these findings again and again to measure progress in this area. As we all know, diversity in coverage and the newsroom is not something that can be achieved overnight, but something that takes serious time and commitment. But continuing to pursue it is the right thing to do, as we know that it’s one of the ways to rebuild the trust that communities have lost in the media. The Inquirer’s very existence relies on it.
AAJA Philadelphia board:
Juliana F. Reyes, treasurer
Hannah Chinn, secretary
Jess Bond, vice president for student engagement
Bethany Ao, national board representative
Miguel Martinez-Valle, NAHJ Philadelphia Chapter president
Ernest Owens, PABJ President on behalf of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
*Note: AAJA Philadelphia president Tim Tai recused himself from drafting this statement as he was on the audit committee at the Philadelphia Inquirer.