The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) abhors the portrayal of the Philadelphia Black community and race relations in Philadelphia Magazine’s cover article “Being White in Philly” dated for March 13, 2013.
Robert Huber’s article was a poor display of civic journalism on many fronts; and irresponsible in its action of race-baiting in creating tension and animosity between Blacks and whites.
The story made an attempt to illustrate the racial hurdles of whites. In doing so, the author writes about his discomfort with having his son rent near Temple University in North Philadelphia, where his son goes to school. Huber writes in first-person that while his white peers see the good in Philadelphia, he doesn’t.
The writer then makes an attempt to extend his feelings about life in Philadelphia through random street interviews of white Philadelphians i.e. a Russian female immigrant, an 87-year-old resident and a guy named “Bob” he met at a bar – all anonymous sources.
However, the report conclusively portrays Blacks as mere foolish thugs, contributing to the headaches of Philadelphia whites. He does this consistently throughout the article, desperately driving home his point about “inner-city Blacks” having “moral poverty.”
One of the most disturbing facts that has surfaced since the article hit the stands last Friday is that Philadelphia Magazine has no minority journalists working full-time on its staff.
How can a majority-white newsroom covering a majority-minority landscape such as Philadelphia call itself providing objective coverage?
Blacks make up a strong quarter of this region’s population and almost 50 percent of this city’s population. To note, Blacks here also make up more than 70 percent of the School District of Philadelphia’s student population.
The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) have recently released census reports validating the fact diversity is lacking here in newsrooms and news stations.
With that said, the leadership of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists is requesting management at Philadelphia Magazine to consider a number of proposals.
We are extending our hand in an effort to help Philadelphia Magazine with its lack of diversity on its staff. Either the magazine is proud to boast it has no full-time minorities working there or it recognizes a problem that needs to be fixed. We’re hoping it’s the latter.
PABJ has a diverse field of qualified candidates who could be of use to Philadelphia Magazine – as full-time reporters and or editors. Our national organization the National Association of Black Journalists, with more than 3,000 members can also be of assistance. We are willing to help the publication with this problem.
This is also an open invitation to management to attend PABJ’s next community meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.
The meeting is the second of PABJ's “Community Series,” where PABJ travels across the city in an effort to lend an ear and embrace the diverse voices of the numerous Black communities that exist here. Our first was in South Philadelphia, held at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in February.
The aim of these meetings is to provide a venue where Black residents of the city can discuss and pitch story ideas that are specific to their neighborhoods – voices that are often ignored.
These meetings also provide credible voices, where journalists do not have to be forced to use anonymous sources – such as the case with Huber’s report.
Also, we would like for Philadelphia Magazine to come on board as a participant in PABJ’s freelancer job fair scheduled for September in North Philadelphia.
The job fair is not exclusive to African-American journalists, but any journalist seeking to get a foot in the door of the business.
The leadership of PABJ would also like to sit down with management at Philadelphia Magazine to discuss the need for proper representation in coverage and hiring of African Americans.
We feel it’s essential for all media entities in the Philadelphia region to be held accountable when it comes to the coverage and hiring of African Americans and stand ready for dialogue with each company in making this a reality.
PABJ challenges Philadelphia Magazine to step up and be the responsible, cultural, journalistic partner that it should be to society in covering this city.
We await your response.