Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Election Day inches closer; Deputy Opinion Editor talks endorsements, submissions and more | Morning Newsletter

All the local news you need to know to start your day, delivered straight to your email.

PMN CLIP ART – FOR USE AS DESIRED: Voter registration box at the Democratic party's booth at the 163rd Bloomsburg Fair September 25, 2018. Democrat voter vote register. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
PMN CLIP ART – FOR USE AS DESIRED: Voter registration box at the Democratic party's booth at the 163rd Bloomsburg Fair September 25, 2018. Democrat voter vote register. TOM GRALISH / Staff PhotographerRead moreTOM GRALISH

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good news, Philly: this weekend's one hour longer, thanks to the end of daylight saving time. Did you set your clocks back? With all that extra time, you'll want to take a moment to read a new in-depth investigation from the Inquirer and the Boston Globe. The report reveals that a 2002 pledge from U.S. bishops to snuff out sexual abuse in the Catholic Church failed to police one group — themselves — leading to the crisis the church faces today. And, if you've ever wondered about the differences between letters to the editor, editorial and opinion pieces in the paper (and who's behind the Inquirer Editorial Board endorsement guide), you're in luck. Deputy Opinion Editor Erica Palan explains it all in this week's "Behind the Story."

Reading this online? Sign up here to get this newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning.

Oona Goodin-Smith, Tauhid Chappell (

The week ahead

  1. Tuesday's the day — Election Day, that is. Need a refresher on your polling place or to brush up on your local midterm races? Our voters guide has you covered. And if you're facing problems at the polls, we want to know. Text us to join our network and help feed us news tips on anything that may prevent people from voting on Nov. 6.

  2. Could we soon find out where Amazon will place its new headquarters? It appears they're one step closer to deciding and it could be Crystal City, Va., according to a Washington Post report. But Philly officials say they're not giving up hope on claiming the massive corporate complex, yet.

  3. It's movie season: The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival continues this week around the city, while the Philly Asian American Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, Nov. 8.

  4. Sunday, Nov. 11 marks Veterans Day. This year the family of Sgt. Karl Loesche will honor the World War II soldier, who died in a POW camp 76 years ago, when his remains finally return home to Elmer, N.J. this week.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Erica Palan

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, reporter Katherine Nails asked Deputy Opinion Editor Erica Palan about opinions, editorials, endorsements and everything in between, including questions from our readers.

What is the role of the Deputy Opinion Editor?

I'm responsible for making sure we have timely, unique, and thought-provoking Opinion pieces on and in the Inquirer every day. The goal of the opinion pages is to provide a platform for a variety of voices and viewpoints — including our audience and civic leaders. We do this, not only because those voices and viewpoints are valuable, but because they can provide understanding and insight into complicated issues facing our region and world.

Readers should feel like they can find pieces that affirm as well as challenge their points of view. The value of this is that it allows readers to gain a deeper and richer understanding of how the news impacts people's daily lives and to explore viewpoints that they might not have previously considered.

What's the difference between an editorial, a column and an opinion/commentary piece?

An editorial is the institutional view of the Inquirer's Editorial Board. Topics vary, but editorials are often focused on local/regional issues. When we're choosing editorial topics, we often ask ourselves, "How could this editorial make change?" Editorials are unsigned.  In print, editorials always run in the space with an Editorial label. Online, you can differentiate an editorial from other content, because the word "Editorial" appears in the headline and the Inquirer Editorial Board is the author.

A column is written by one of our staff columnists. (That is: People we employ specifically to write opinionated pieces.) Columnists often do original reporting for their columns, but they aren't reporters. Reporters are required to write without an opinion. In the print paper, you can tell something is a column because the author's photo will appear with it. Online, you can tell a columnist's work because his or her name will appear at the end of the headline. Some columnists have particular beats — like Trudy Rubin, who writes about international affairs — while other columnists are generalists, writing about topical issues that vary from column to column.

An opinion or commentary piece is written by someone outside our newsroom. The author could be anyone from an elected official to your next door neighbor. While columns appear throughout the paper, opinions (or op-eds, meaning opposite of editorial) run on the editorial pages at the back of the A section. You can find our Opinion section online at

We also run letters to the editor, which are direct responses to particular stories or issues. You can send your 200-word letter to the editor to

What is the Inquirer Editorial Board? How does it relate to the rest of the newsroom?

The Editorial Board is a group of writers and editors who are tasked with defining the institutional point of view of the paper. The team includes former reporters, columnists, and editors. The Board operates separately from newsroom, which means that while we talk often with our news-side colleagues, we are editorially independent. (That means that reporters and news editors don't get to weigh in on what's written in an editorial and the Editorial Board doesn't get a say in what kinds of news stories are written.) The Editorial Board is part of the larger Opinion department at the Inquirer.

What are endorsements, and why does the Editorial Board publish them?

Prior to each election, the Editorial Board identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate. Then, the Board hosts meetings with candidates from the major parties running in those races. (Read our endorsement guide here.)

Because it's often hard for voters to get a clear picture of what candidates stand for, we take this job seriously and spend time researching the candidates. We dig into their positions on the issues we think are most important for their constituents and prepare questions to guide conversation.

After the meetings, the Board deliberates. Based on our research, our discussions with candidates, and positions we've taken on issues in previous editorials, the Board makes a decision about which candidate to endorse. Sometimes, it's an easy choice and sometimes there's a lot of debate amongst our Board members. Sometimes, too, the choice is hard; when we prefer "none of the above."  But we believe any choice is better than sitting out an election. We know you may not always agree with our views, but our ultimate goal is to help you understand the positions of candidates so you can make the most informed decision on Election Day.

Where do opinion pieces come from? How are they chosen for publication?

Opinions can come from anywhere and anyone. Many people — ranging from elected officials to everyday Philadelphians — send in pieces for consideration. I also do targeted outreach to potential contributors based on the news of the day. Sometimes it will be someone from an advocacy organization writing about a piece of legislation. Other times, I'll see a smart take on Twitter and ask the person to expand their thoughts. Sometimes, we'll do a call out for our readers to share their opinions on specific topics.

We also partner with organizations such as the Washington Post, The Philadelphia Citizen and Manhattan Institute's City Journal to share newsworthy viewpoints that our readers might have otherwise missed.

It's tough deciding which pieces get published. We only have so much space in the paper. Editing each piece requires an editor to fact-check, shape arguments, smooth out language, do digital and print production, copy edit and more. When making choices about what to publish, we consider factors such as quality, timing and balance of coverage. Some subjects generate a lot of submissions; that's when we especially look for fresh perspectives.

How can readers submit opinions?

Email them to or send directly to me at If your piece is tied to a particular event or date, it's good to submit a week or so ahead of time.

Pro tips:

  1. Paste the copy directly into the body of an email and not as an attachment.

  2. 600 words is a good length.

  3. Include a 1-2 sentence author bio at the bottom.

  4. Bonus points for writers who include relevant links.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

We hope you have a wonderful birthday @aimeebsiegel! Thanks for capturing the city's fall foliage at its peak. 📸

Be sure to 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!

#CuriousPhilly: Have a question about your community? Ask us!

Have you submitted a question to Curious Philly yet? Try us. We're listening to our readers and doing our best to find answers to the things you're curious about.

Our readers' latest question: How does the Philadelphia Streets Department go about replacing, correcting, and updating street-name signs?
The answer: It's no small task. Meet the three people responsible for maintaining the city's 100,000-plus street signs.

What we’re…

  1. Eating: Cheese, please, from food critic Craig LaBan's latest homage to fromage: Goat Rodeo Farms. Not baaaad.

  2. Drinking: Dock Street Brewery's newest It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia beer with a not-so-subtle message for Mac.

  3. Viewing: Philly photographer Rachel Wisniewski's #MeToo series, which focuses on the pervasiveness of sexual assault.

  4. Listening to: Tupac as we head to Temple University to check out the rap legend's jewelry and handwritten lyrics on display.

Comment of the week

Have driven by there hundreds of times and didn't know its important history. It would be nice to save the property or at least scale the development back considerably. The traffic there is already pretty bad and another 100 cars or so certainly won't help much either. As always, money talks. — Mv Reader on a new townhouse development approved for an Underground Railroad site in Whitemarsh Township, Pa.

Your Daily Dose of | Green Fur

Twenty-five years ago, he retired from his role as the original Phillie Phanatic. Now, he's behind the team that helped craft Gritty, the Flyers' orange Muppet phenom. Meet Dave Raymond, mascot guru.