Monday, March 2, 2020

Dear Stan: Your Newspaper Sucks

Sorry, Stanley
By Ralph Cipriano

This morning at 7 a.m., I received a personal note from Stan Wishchnowski, senior vice president and executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Dear Ralph," he wrote to "Inquirer insiders" like myself who've made the questionable investment of subscribing online to the digital newspaper. "At a recent meeting among our editors, Inquirer editor and vice president Gabriel Escobar noted that we were about to send a reporter and photographer to Portugal for a special report that will publish this month. That came on the heels of reporting that took our journalists to California, Ohio and Poland for stories that we ran in February."

"Local news can take us anywhere if it's important to our audience," Gabe said, according to Stan.

Stan, who was remarkably chatty for a guy who won't get on the phone with me when his troops are protesting outside his door, proceeded to say how the Inquirer was following a local Holocaust  survivor from Jenkintown when she visited Auschwitz. And then he talked about some recent journalism awards that the paper has won. Finally, Stan hit me up for a contribution to the Inquirer Investigative News Fund. The nerve of this freaking guy, asking for a handout. Didn't the late Gerry Lenfest, who got a Viking funeral from the Inky, leave enough money to give the editorial staff a raise for the first time in more than a decade?

Since Stan was in such a chatty mood, I figured I'd write him back and give him my honest opinion on how he and the newspaper are faring in covering one of the most corrupt cities in North America. Since the Inky is always into getting feedback on their journalism, I figured he'd appreciate hearing from a loyal reader.

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Stan, I’m glad you have the cash to send people to Portugal, and California and Ohio to chase stories. Thank you Gerry Lenfest. 

But it would be far more beneficial to your readers if you started digging in your own backyard. You can start with the district attorney, who is emptying the jails, and breaking the law by not notifying crime victims of the plea bargains he cuts that benefit criminals rather than the rest of us. Then our DA scrubs the criminal records clean so nobody knows what happened. 

You could start reporting on all of the corruption of a Democratic machine that’s ruled this town with an iron fist since 1952. Instead of partnering with the city, as you did with the Safehouse injection sites, and always having Rendell’s back, and Kenney’s, you could adopt an adversarial stance and start reporting on the Democratic machine as if it was the enemy of democracy, which it surely is in a town where general elections are as meaningful as those held in Putin’s Russia.

You could remind people of what’s going on with the incredibly wasteful DROP program, which has given away more than $1.6 billion in cash bonuses to already well-compensated municipal employees. You could start covering the courts again, and then you would have had the story about Cosmo DiNardo and his parents suing the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, where a psychiatrist examined Cosmo in the middle of his murder rampage, knew that he was off his meds and dangerous, but just let him go off on his merry way. The very next day, Cosmo killed three young men.

You could also consider diversifying your news coverage and opinion pieces, which, with few exceptions, always come from the same perspective, that of a politically correct, social-justice warrior and progressive Democrat. You may have noticed that the people of America may be tiring of that approach, and that’s why they elected Donald Trump as president. And why South Philly revolted against Safehouse.

In short, you are failing on all levels of what a newspaper is supposed to do. And a few field trips, and a few journalism trophies, which mean absolutely nothing to the average reader, can’t cover that up.


Ralph Cipriano
former Inquirer reporter, 1987-1998. 

I could have also mentioned a couple of my other gripes, such as how dull and predictable the paper is, and how it always reads like it was written by a bunch of outsiders who live in the suburbs, or Mt. Airy. Or how the paper has nobody on the staff who's plugged into what's really going on in this town.

And that's why the Inky had to read to find out that the new police commissioner's first official policy directive was about nail polish. And that the state Supreme Court was appointing a "special master" to investigate D.A. Larry Krasner.

Of course it would have been nice, not to mention intellectually honest, as well as standard journalistic practice, to mention where these scoops came from when you rewrote them for your newspaper.

But I didn't get into that in my note to Stan. Because it would have been piling on.


  1. I want to love this a thousand times!

  2. Since we have Stan’s and Gabe's ears, here is what I would like to add. As a middle aged lifelong resident of Philadelphia, my thinking has radically changed. I would like to tell you what I have learned in the hopes that Inquirer journalists are able to open their eyes to unethical and immoral tactics against fellow citizens at the hands of prosecutors. I have not decided if your staff is blissfully unaware or you only employee those who find joy in others misfortune.
    Stan and Gabe the next time you sit around a table for a powwow the subject of protecting families, lives, homes, lifesavings and ones dignity from unscrupulous prosecutors has to be on the top of your list.
    The general public is unaware that prosecutors both local and federal depend on your media outlet to sway public opinion in condemning an intended target, a person who they intent to indict. Hand selected journalist who cover the courts are handed ruinous, inaccurate information to damage a citizen and seal their fate.
    Stan, Gabe, prosecutors play to win, they want a citizen to lose their dignity, lifesaving and future earnings, they want to separate families, separate husbands and wives, use family to lie and give false witness against one another. Not to mention all the hardships that goes with being betrayed by your government. Being in the cross-hairs of any prosecutors is not to be taken lightly, when one realizes that the prosecutor is lying and the media does not care it’s a desperate situation. These atrocities are happening here right here in the cradle of liberty.
    As this should be a learning experience for you two, since criminal justice reform is continually discussed and rightly so, but so should a citizen be able to relate the brutal, hostile, extortion tactics used by lawyer’s employed by our government to hold power over citizens. Taking away our right to tell of the injustices that happen every day at the hand of these prosecutors should not threaten your standing with the prosecution just help to even the playing field.
    People are outraged with their lives, not reading what you are living does not foster trust in the media.. Having to live a prosecutor’s version of your life is repulsive. I am angry and sick of being told how to feel. Having no voice or my voice counting as less than a prosecutor especially one who blatantly lied, is unacceptable and should be unacceptable to every American.

  3. Thanks, Paul. Somebody has to say it.

  4. Dear Ralph-GREETINGS from Peru! The last time I was in Philadelphia it was visiting with my brother from Delaware and my son who had just become a US Marine and his brother who was about to start basic training as a USAF Airman. Having Philly Cheese steaks was a great memory. What bothers me is the lock-step PRAVDA like "no fraud here in Philly" narrative littering the internet. Thanks for producing news content befitting a journalist worthy of the name. I hope I can schedule you for QUORUM RADIO to discuss Election 2020 and discuss what really went down with dead voters, who've quickly returned to their graves, being cleared of skullduggery charges by friends or Democrats on this side of the cemetery who were giving them some work.


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