October 04, 2005

News You Can Lose

Philadelphia Weekly

by Steve Volk

The Inquirer's coverage of the Catholic Church molestation scandal carries with it a special poignancy for reasons that resonate both inside and outside the newsroom.

When a Philadelphia grand jury recently released a scathing report documenting the church's systematic cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, the Inquirer delivered the kind of exhaustive coverage only a daily newspaper its size can provide: four full pages the first day, four the second and a whopping seven on Sunday-1,800 column inches in total, filled with both the facts and the pathos of an undeniably compelling story.

The Inquirer also performed its work against a bleak backdrop, given parent company Knight Ridder's earlier announcement that 75 newsroom positions must be trimmed before the year is out. "It's painful," says Nancy Phillips, one of the main reporters covering the church scandal. "In a way I was lucky, because this story broke, and I've been so focused on doing my job that I haven't had time to think about what's happening here. But you can't completely overlook it. There's a sadness around the place right now."

As Phillips carried out her work on the church scandal, a colleague seated nearby made phone calls too-about job openings elsewhere. "There's a lot of talent we're about to lose," says Phillips.

And once that talent walks out the door, will the Inquirer still be able to rise to the occasion of such a big story?

Posted by kshaw at October 4, 2005 06:26 PM