Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Open Letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Dear Mr. Tierney:

Please, listen.

  1. Cut the Business Section during the week. Run it only on Saturday and Sunday. The age of listing stock-quotes that are a day old has passed. In fact, it passed ten years ago. Offer business analysis, but only on the weekends.
  2. Cut the Local News Section during the week. Run it only once, on Sundays. Those with an interest in Local News are far more likely to read The Daily News than they are The Inquirer.
  3. During the week, run only the Sports Page and the Front Page. Expand the Front Page to include more international news. Keep the Sports Page as it is. This is the one thing that The Inquirer does better than The New York Times. And yes, you’re hearing me right: Monday through Friday, run only two sections.
  4. Add more book reviews, but do so in an expanded Arts Section, which runs on both Saturday and Sunday. During the week, do not run an Arts Section – or a Science Section for that matter.
  5. Cut all music reviews: the paper must be kidding itself in this day and age to think that this section of the paper, in particular, is of any value.
  6. Either commit to a Currents Section, or cut it all together by folding it into Arts. As it currently stands, Currents has no identity, no clear purpose.
  7. Have your editors develop better captions. The writing that appears below Inquirer images is awful.
  8. In this Age of Technology, The Inquirer’s website is remarkably difficult to navigate. It is also unattractive and uninviting. Don’t you see: to modernize the website (with the assistance of a younger generation raised on The Internet) is to save the paper itself.

Mr. Tierney: If my tone is direct, it is because these matters are urgent. You need honest advice – because honesty is the only thing that will save this paper from the mediocrity to which it has recently descended.


Jesse Freedman


  1. Astute suggestions. Our paper, the Palm Beach Post, has made several of these changes and is improved for having done so.
    However, because I surf the internet, most straight news is old for me when the paper is dumped on my lawn at 4:30 AM.
    That remains a problem for newspaper management.

  2. I'd like to see The Philadelphia Inquirer and other newspapers do more in-depth coverage of local, national and internetional news, and leave breaking news to the Internet.

    As Michael Connelly noted in one of his novels, as the Internet will have covered any breaking news story long before a newspapers comes out, the newspaper ought to be called The Daily Afterthought.

    But newspapers, in my view, can do long pieces much better than newspapers, and newspapers can do investigative journalism much better than the Internet.

    Lastly, I think The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers, should hire me more often (Ha).

  3. My bad - as the kids say - I meant to write that newspapers can do long pieces beter than the Internet...

    Which brings me to another point, newspapers generally have more, and better editors.

  4. Thank you for contributing to the discussion, Lincoln and Paul.