Top editor of Philadelphia paper resigns after outrage over ‘Buildings Matter Too’ headline

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A top editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper has resigned following outrage by several staffers over a headline that noted, “Buildings Matter, Too” amid ongoing rioting in the city and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd.

The story critically highlighted the damage being done to businesses and other structures in the city due to rioting that is doing nothing to advance the cause of justice for Floyd, whom many believe was killed by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Fox News reported that executive editor Stan Wischnowski, 58, stepped down following publication of the story which drew condemnation from other editors and journalists working at the paper.

A day after the headline ran, Wischnowski and other senior editors apologized on the paper’s website, calling it “offensive” and saying that it should not have been published.

“The headline accompanied a story on the future of Philadelphia’s buildings and civic infrastructure in the aftermath of this week’s protests,” the apology said. “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.”

Earlier in the week, about 30 of the paper’s 210 editorial staffers called in sick as black staff members angrily criticized the story.

The headline appeared over an article written by Inga Saffron, an architecture critic concerned that buildings being damaged or destroyed due to riots over the past week could “leave a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia.”

Internal criticism over the Inquirer’s headline came as scores of staffers at The New York Times ripped that paper’s senior editors over a column they published from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in which he called for using active-duty military to help police and National Guard troops quell ongoing rioting the Justice Department says are being fomented by Left-wing groups allied with “foreign actors.”

More than 800 Times staffers signed a letter blasting the op-ed.

For his part, Cotton pushed back, claiming that his column exceeded Times standards “which are normally full of left-wing sophomoric drivel.”

Times editorial page editor James Bennet and Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger gently defended publishing the op-ed a day later, but nevertheless said that deciding to run it was due to a “rushed editorial process” that “led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards.”

As for Wischnowski, he “was with the Inquirer for 20 years and oversaw the publication of stories on violence in Philadelphia public schools that won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2012,” Fox News reported.

But concerns for what condition major cities will be left in when the rioting is finally over — whenever that may be — are legitimate.

An increasing number of social media posts by residents of several cities show block after block of damage, with many comparing them to “war zones.” Hulks of still-smoldering buildings and burned-out shells are increasingly part of urban landscapes overrun by riotous mobs using firebombs, bricks, and other instruments to destroy and loot businesses already hard-hit economically after being shuttered due to months-long coronavirus lockdown orders.

And last week, Attorney General William Barr told reporters that much of the rioting is pre-meditated.

“At some demonstrations, however, there are groups that exploit the opportunity to engage in such crimes as looting,” he continued. “And finally, at some demonstrations, there are extremist agitators who are hijacking the protests to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.

“We have evidence that Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity,” Barr noted further. “We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.”

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Jon Dougherty

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