Welcome to the divided states of Pennsylvania | Morning Newsletter
And a look inside the life of a Philly City Hall reporter.
Happy Sunday, everybody. We’re just nine days away from Election Day. That’s just over a week to go, so the campaigns are going full speed to the finish.
Joe Biden was just in Bucks County on Saturday, and Pennsylvania Republicans are trying again to overturn the mail ballot deadline extension. This is all happening against the backdrop of Pennsylvania politics, which exemplify the political discord the country as a whole is going through.
Also this week, I chatted with reporter Sean Collins Walsh, who usually covers Philadelphia City Hall, to learn more about his work and how things have changed in this busy year.
— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre, email@example.com)
The week ahead
A critical state in this election, Pennsylvania is also one of America’s most complex. From the Northeast corridor through Appalachia to the industrial Midwest, my colleague Jonathan Tamari breaks down how it embodies America’s political discord with a special report.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency request in a 4-4 tie vote to step in and block the mail ballot deadline extension that allows for ballots to be received up to three days after Election Day, Nov. 3. Pennsylvania Republicans have asked the court to overturn the extension again. And Monday’s all-but-certain confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett could tip the balance in deciding the new request.
The mail ballot deadline court battle could be just one in a long line of lawsuits on and after Election Day in Pennsylvania. Here’s what legal experts and lawyers had to say about it.
The homeless encampment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway has substantially fewer tents and perhaps no more than 25 occupants, down from an estimated peak of 150 during the summer. One of its organizers said it could be completely vacated as soon as Monday.
There’s no Eagles game today, but with their win over the Giants on Thursday, the team is in a better position to make the playoffs. If you’re not completely sold this year, here are seven reasons to believe in the Eagles.
This week’s most popular stories
The Eagles' decision to activate Alshon Jeffery is inexcusable | Jeff McLane
COVID-19 cases are rising fast in Pa. and N.J., but hospitals are not burdened — yet. Here’s why.
Former Kappa Alpha Psi exec is charged with embezzling $3M to feed a gambling habit
‘Everything I do is criminal’: Philly mobster is sentenced to 15 years in a case built on boasts made on an FBI wire
White women are ditching Trump, and it could cost him Pennsylvania
Behind the story with Sean Collins Walsh
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with reporter Sean Collins Walsh, who usually covers Philadelphia City Hall, but now is helping report on the 2020 election.
What drew you to journalism and to your coverage area in particular?
I decided journalism was for me while working for my college newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. I became enthralled by the fact that there was an entire industry dedicated to questioning those in power. That’s why I chose my coverage area: politics and government. I usually report from the City Hall bureau, but this year, needless to say, has been unusual. For a few months, I covered the coronavirus pandemic, especially the mayor’s handling of it and its impact on nursing homes. Then I helped with our reporting on the protests of the police killing of George Floyd. And after a brief stint back on regular City Hall coverage, I am now reporting full-time on the 2020 election with our politics team. What a year!
What has it been like covering City Hall and the election in a pandemic? What challenges have you faced that you didn’t expect?
It has been surreal. City Council has been meeting virtually, the mayor recently had to quarantine following a COVID exposure, and City Hall is all but empty. The primary challenge has been staying in contact with sources when there are no opportunities to see them in person or run into them in the hallways.
What are you looking out for in your reporting? Are there any trends you’re keeping an eye on?
Right now, we’re focused on reporting about the integrity of voting and vote-counting in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania because President Trump’s campaign has made it a priority to discredit the election process. So we’re reporting both sides of that coin: Are there problems with voting in Philadelphia? And are the president’s attacks on voting warranted, or are they for political gain?
What is a recent story or project you’re particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of the work that we on The Inquirer’s politics team are doing in the homestretch of this unprecedented election, especially the stories that capture the centrality of Pennsylvania’s role in the 2020 campaign and those that elucidate the emerging threats to our normal process of electing leaders. In recent weeks, I’ve covered Mike Pence in Malvern, Kamala Harris in Philadelphia, and Joe Biden in Gettysburg, as well as helped with our coverage of the Trump campaign’s attacks on voting in Philadelphia.
What is something you’re looking forward to outside of work?
Trying to squeeze in one more camping trip before it gets too cold.
What is something you wish more people better understood about your job?
A lot of people seem to read our articles for the sole purpose of discerning reporters' political biases, and it comes from both sides. I hope more people understand that newspaper reporters who cover politics spend their entire working lives pushing back against lies and half-truths by politicians to try to bring readers the most accurate report possible about what their elected leaders are up to.
Email Sean Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @sbcmw.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
Love this autumn scene and the punny caption, @nickjmalf! Thanks for sharing. I hope everyone is experiencing the nice weather outside while we can.
Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!
How to vote safely in person in a pandemic
Mail voting has seen an uptick in demand this year as more people look to stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19. But voting in person is still a viable option. You’re not alone if that’s your preference, and health experts say you shouldn’t let the pandemic stop you. There are precautions you can take to stay safe and avoid potential spread. Remember the basics: wear a mask, maintain social distance of at least six feet, and wash your hands before and after voting. Here are some other tips for voting safely in person.
Listening to: Black Thought. He’s always been considered a true master of rhyme, and now his first official album is out.
Cooking: Simple recipes with the kids. Or without kids. These recipes are easy to follow for cooks of any skill level.
Exploring: Philly artists at the Woodmere. Move over Jackson Pollock. Philadelphia had its fair share of mid-century abstract impressionists, too. And you can explore their work at the Woodmere Art Museum through January.
Comment of the week
“Great job Kevin. He is a wonderful man in every respect and I am happy and proud to have had him as my pastor and enjoy his friendship and wisdom.” — jim_4965a, on New documentary celebrates Msgr. Michael Doyle, the beloved ‘Heart of Camden.'
Your Daily Dose of | Fatherhood and football
Penn State coaches and players have seen commitment from Lamont Wade in football, from how he progressed to getting an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season. The dedication and perseverance has quite a bit to do with his 2-year-old son, Roman. The toddler has given Wade’s life a special purpose as he prepares for the opening game of his senior season and, hopefully, a chance at the NFL.