Publisher and CEO
From the publisher
The above quotation from our co-founder is as relevant today as it was when the first edition of the Inquirer rolled off the presses. Almost two centuries later, the core purpose of our organization – to serve the people of the Philadelphia region – has remained the same.
Over the past decade, however, much has changed at the Inquirer. Years of ownership change and financial turmoil have taken their toll, but thanks to the vision and generosity of the late H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, we have emerged on stable footing.
Now a public benefit corporation, the Inquirer is locally owned by the non-profit Lenfest Institute for Journalism. A first-of-its-kind partnership, this means we have no shareholders, hedge funds or out-of-town corporate parents. Any profit we make goes back to sustaining our mission. All of us – our reporters, editors, salespeople, pressmen, drivers and digital technologists – answer to no one but you, the people.
Gerry Lenfest asked, “Where better than Philadelphia to invent the future of a free press?”
We have set out to define what that future looks like. We have unified the newsrooms of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com, and have hired a strong crop of new journalists to infuse the organization with needed skill sets and talent to propel us into the future. This makes the Inquirer more diverse and more relevant than ever, and allows us to tell the story of Philadelphia – and all Philadelphians – from new and multiple perspectives.
Along with increasing the diversity and depth of our coverage, in the coming months we will launch “Spotlight PA,” a much-needed joint investigative news project with 12 full-time journalists who will shed light on issues of statewide importance, and “The Upside,” a new section dedicated to positive, feel-good stories about our community.
What was once literally just a “newspaper” is now a multi-platform news report – in print, digital, voice, video and more – delivered every day, at all hours.
Below, you will find a snapshot of the new kind of investigative and service journalism we have produced, most of it in just the past three months.
Even bigger changes are coming in the year ahead and we promise to keep you informed of them. In the meantime, please let me know how we are doing at TerryAMA@inquirer.com.
YOUR STORYTELLER, TOUR GUIDE AND WATCHDOG
In 2018, our newly unified newsroom produced stories that invoked significant change, from city hall to public schools and beyond. We also brought you the events and personalities that celebrate what makes Philadelphia special. We do this work because we love our region.
A FAILURE TO PROTECT: SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Starting with an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against prominent drum corp director George Hopkins, staff writer Tricia L. Nadolny spent a year reporting on abuses in drum and bugle corps, uncovering numerous cases of teachers who had been disciplined for misconduct with students and then went on to work in drum corps.
RESULTS: Nadolny’s work led to national reforms in the youth activity, including a requirement that corps have sexual harassment and misconduct policies and other safeguards. Hopkins resigned as director of the cadets and in November was charged with two counts of sexual assault.
THE HIDDEN TOLL OF GUN VIOLENCE
Inquirer staff writers David Gambacorta and Helen Ubiñas uncovered the hidden toll of gun violence in America, detailing how shooting victims face lifelong disabilities and financial burdens. The duo’s reporting outlined that gun violence survivors face an average of $46,632 in medical costs with little to no assistance. Many do not know where to turn, and even if they do, there are few viable assistance programs.
RESULTS: Our report was amplified by a long NPR Morning Edition story featuring our reporters, bringing national attention to these important, often-ignored topics. Also in response, numerous paralyzed gunshot victims connected with one another over their shared stories of struggle. Experts at a Philadelphia teaching hospital have also started an in-depth study of patient data for gun violence survivors.
FROM DREAM HOME TO NIGHTMARE
An Inquirer investigation by staff writers Caitlin McCabe and Erin Arvedlund based on interviews with more than 40 people, including nearly two dozen homeowners, attorneys, inspectors, builders and construction experts, as well as a review of thousands of pages of legal filings, uncovered that Pennsylvania is the epicenter of an industry-wide epidemic of poor housing construction.
RESULTS: The reporting found that rushed production, undertrained workers, lower-quality materials, and lax oversight by builders and code inspectors have left at least 650 homeowners in at least 55 zip codes in houses so damaged by water that each requires tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of dollars in repairs.
CATHOLIC BISHOPS FAILED TO POLICE THEMSELVES
An Inquirer and Boston Globe joint investigation into Catholic clergy sex abuse revealed that more than 130 bishops had faced accusations of covering up their own sexual abuse or abuse by priests in their dioceses.
RESULTS: The report sparked a national conversation among Catholic bishops about how to better hold themselves accountable, and also led to the chairman of the National Review Board advising bishops on sex-abuse policies to criticize the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ suggested reforms as “incomplete.”
DANGER: LEARN AT YOUR OWN RISK
The Toxic City investigative series exposed the ongoing struggle to protect Philadelphia’s children from environmental harm. Our reporters examined lead paint in old homes, contaminated soil in once-industrial neighborhoods; and unhealthy conditions in public schools.
RESULTS: After two years of reporting, the five-part Toxic City series led to four new protective laws; 770 landlords fined; $15.7 million in emergency school repair funds; and $900,000 in additional city money to protect kids from lead paint in their homes.
Even though marijuana possession has been all but decriminalized in Philadelphia and large swathes of Pennsylvania, misdemeanor arrests are way up statewide and in South Jersey, with African Americans increasingly making up a disproportionate share. Police also are providing misleading arrest data to the FBI.
RESULTS: The NAACP pushed for reform in Plymouth Township, where arrests went up 50%, with blacks bearing the brunt.
THE UNLIKELY ROAD TO RHODES SCHOLAR
In a two-part series, the Inquirer followed Hazim Hardeman, Temple’s first Rhodes Scholar, on his journey from North Philly to Oxford. Spotlighting Hardeman’s path from a tough neighborhood with one of the city’s highest violent crime rates to earning one of the world’s most celebrated post-graduate awards, staff writer Susan Snyder’s profile dives into Hardeman’s journey and what has driven him to make sure his path is not so unusual in the future.
YES, THERE IS A NEW FAUX BEACH IN THE HEART OF NORTH PHILLY
Staff writer Cassie Owens took you inside the new “beach” in North Philly, where hundreds of party-goers turned out for the New Beach Club in Swampoodle — once a parking lot adjacent to an auto body shop, transformed by owner Chris Knight and a crew of like minds.
Last summer reporters Amy S. Rosenberg and Tommy Rowan hitched a ride with the shoobies, setting out to capture what it’s like to spend a summer at the Jersey Shore. Shoobies, lifelong locals, and boardwalk expats sent memories and moments using the hashtag #downaShore; the Inquirer catalogued their responses in a new series, “SHORE: Shoobies, Locals & Moments #downaShore.” In the first story of the series, Rosenberg profiled Chuck Leiber, dubbed “the Schmoozer” and “the Duke of Dorset”, the uno cial mayor of Dorset Avenue beach. Every Sunday through Labor Day, they covered everything from locals favorite shore spots and events to where to find the best happy hour.
WE THE PEOPLE
Inquirer culture reporter Stephanie Farr’s weekly column, We the People, profiles the ordinary people who make Philadelphia extraordinary. In 2018, she told the stories of a 94-year-old great-grandmother who’s worked in the bakery of the Giant supermarket in Montgomery County since 1996, a pet groomer who unleashes dogs’ inner rock stars with mohawks, and “Pete the Groin Crusher” who has crushed 10,000 patients’ groins “without even a sweat.”
IN SYNC WITH PHILLY
The Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Inga Saffron took readers inside the city’s tallest skyscraper, showing that it offers something far more meaningful and lasting than a mere height record. Where it really soars is on the ground — and by speaking directly and affectionately to its hometown.
CRAIG LABAN'S ULTIMATE DINING GUIDE
No one chronicles the rise of our culinary stars, the decline of others, and the constantly- evolving neighborhood dining scene like restaurant critic Craig LaBan. This year, he assembled a new top 25, his favorite classics, and a new guard you need to know about in his 2018 Ultimate Dining Guide.
BROKE IN PHILLY
Throughout 2018, the Philadelphia Inquirer has been one of 21 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice.
We launched Curious Philly in 2018 to enable readers to ask questions of our reporters and suggest stories. So far, we’ve revealed what happened to the Hunting Park carousel, why Philly’s suburban station is in the heart of the city, why our city’s average income is still down while the national economy’s improving — and we’re just getting started.
A NEW STATEWIDE WATCHDOG
We’ve partnered with the Lenfest Institute to create an unprecedented investigative news cooperative combining the strengths of The Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Caucus (part of the LNP Media Group). The 12-person watchdog team will launch this spring with a mission of informing, engaging and empowering Pennsylvania citizens and serving the public good.