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TCBH! Staff Tell the Philadelphia Inquirer to Start Acting Like a Real Newspaper


Journalists from ThisCantBeHappening! took on the Philadelphia Inquirer. the nation's third-oldest surviving daily, this morning, conducting a leafletting “happening” in front of the paper’s soon-to-be-sold headquarters building on Broad Street.

A one-page flyer, written in Old English and featuring a replica of the masthead of Benjamin Franklin’s original one-page broadsheet, the Pennsylvania Gazette, accused the oft re-sold and steadily downsized and gutted Inquirer of abandoning its Fourth Estate role in favor of entertainment and profits.

Inquirer editors, reporters and other workers entering and leaving the building for the most part willingly accepted the fliers, sometimes reading them on the spot, and sometimes carrying them off to read later. A few stopped to talk with the TCBH! leafleters, who included one activist from the Philadelphia Independent Media Center.
TCBH 'Red Squad' Challenges the Philly Inquirer: Ron Ridenour, John Grant and Dave Lindorff (from left), photo by Rich GardnerTCBH 'Red Squad' garbed in their new TCBH! T-shirts, challenges the Philly Inquirer: Ron Ridenour, John Grant and Dave Lindorff (from left), (photo by Rich Gardner)

One man, asked if he was an Inquirer worker, laughed wryly, saying, “I am until November 18.” He explained that after working at the paper for nearly three decades, he had received notice two weeks ago that he was being sacked. “28 years,” he said, shaking his head. Reading the short broadsheet, which was published on antique-looking fake parchment, and which listed some of the news stories and issues that the Inquirer has consistently ignored, blacked-out or grossly misreported, he said, “It’s true. Every time this paper has changed hands things have gotten worse.”

Others agreed.

Workers passing by on the way to jobs in Center City or at the neighboring Board of Education building just up the street from the Inquirer were nearly unanimous in agreeing that the Inquirer--and other local media -- were doing a poor job of informing the public about many important issues. Only a handful of people refused to accept a copy of the flyer, shown below:

(with apologies to Ben Franklin) (apologies to Ben F.)

We Philadelphians, like our fellow citizens across this nation, are being ill-served by our local “news” media. The insatiable pursuit of profits has systematically despoiled a core institution--the press--which is a crucial cornerstone of freedom and democracy.

story | by Dr. Radut