These days I’m a regular contributor to the Washington Times, and even though I didn’t always agree with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s liberal viewpoint, I’m proud to have been a contributor to the newspaper for nearly 20 years.
My last piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer was a full page Q&A with producer and actor Chazz Palminteri. The piece also ran in the Philadelphia Daily News.
So I was interested in reading veteran reporter and former Inquirer staffer Ralph Ciprano’s take on today’s Philadelphia Media Network newsroom, which is comprised of the two daily newspapers and Philly.com.
Last week, I took a virtual tour of the new merged Inquirer-Daily News-philly.com newsroom, thanks to a brand new feature on their website that's accessible to even hardcore non-subscribers like myself.
It's been 20 years since my last day at the Inquirer, when I was escorted out of the building by an editor. So, I figured I was due for a return visit. But I emerged from my virtual tour feeling like Frank Pentangeli.
Remember the scene in Godfather II where crusty old Frank [AKA "Frankie Five Angels" and "Frankie Pants"] attends the first communion of the late Don Corleone's grandson. It's a big fancy party on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada back in 1958; quite a contrast with the old-fashioned Sicilian wedding scene set on Long Island back in 1945 that opened the original Godfather.
"Hey Fredo," Frank says, "What's with the food around here?"
"A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker, and uh, chopped liver, he says canapés I say uh, uh, can o' peas my ass, that's a Ritz cracker and chopped liver! . . . Bring out the peppers and sausage."
Then, Frank jumps on stage to take issue with the slow music that the boys in the orchestra are playing.
"I can't believe, out of 30 professional musicians, there isn't one Italian in, in the group here," Frank says. "Come on, let's have a tarantella."
That's how I felt after I toured the new merged Inky newsroom.
On "The Newsroom" page at the bottom of the philly.com website, they show the same old reporter's notebook that I used to carry in my back pocket when I was an Inky reporter for more than a decade. Then, they introduce more than 100 reporters who explain their new beats at the new merged Inky.
There's some old familiar faces in the crowd, people I used to work with, but the new Inky newsroom seems more devoted to remaking society rather than reporting the news.
"We've recently reorganized our beats and coverage teams to ensure that we focused on the issues, ideas and institutions that matter most to people of our region," it says. "Here's what we're covering and how to reach us."
On the Inquirer's new "justice and injustice" team, they've got a reporter who covers "unjust systems." He'll never run out of material in this town. They've got a reporter who writes about "violent crimes," and another reporter who writes about "victims."
So, theoretically in any crime story, say, one that involves a purse-snatching, it may take two reporters to write it. One to report on the violent nature of the crime, and another to write about the story from the victim's point of view.
But let's say the assailant comes from a disadvantaged background, and may have been discriminated against in the past. Or he or she is possibly an immigrant, or somebody who may be a minority person living in a neighborhood simmering with ethnic, racial and cultural tensions. Or the purse-snatcher is someone who perceives that they live in an unjust society.
Fortunately, in the new Inky newsroom, there's a vast array of specialists to draw on who can flesh out the cultural, racial and societal aspects of that purse-snatching.
… Hey Fredo, does anybody still cover the freaking City Council? Is anybody down at the Roundhouse, seeing what the cops are up to? Does anybody still cover the courts?
From the online description, the new Inky newsroom is a relentless parade of PC warriors who meet every day to march around the Rizzo statue, and plot Big Frank's demise. But we're not done yet.
In the new Inky newsroom, they have a "class" reporter who writes about "aspects of poverty, wealth, and the middle class relating to both economic and social issues." There's a reporter who covers immigration, and another reporter who covers "neighborhoods and gentrification," specifically "characters, tensions and issues." On the "policy and solutions" team, there's a reporter who writes about "fairness," particularly "economic equity issues, including school funding, and affordable housing." They also have a full-time reporter who covers "the commerce of cannabis."
In the Inky's new world order, they've got four metro columnists. It's a perfectly diverse team, featuring a couple of white guys and a couple women of color. Of course, all the columnists, local, suburban and national, are liberals who hate Trump. Of the more than 100 reporters working in the new Inky newsroom, if there's a conservative in the bunch, or a Libertarian, or a contrarian, you'd never know it by reading the paper.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link to bigtrial.net:
You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer Q&A with Chazz Palminteri via the below link: