Laura Bassett Statement Regarding the Imperiled Philadelphia Inquirer

WASHINGTON, DC — According to the management of the Philadelphia Inquirer, they have less than five years to make substantial changes to save the paper. The culprit? Big tech.

As Philadelphia Business Journal’s Jeff Blumenthal reports, “‘The economic challenges of our industry and the dominance of the major tech platforms pose mortal threats to our long-term sustainability,’ Inquirer management said. ‘At our current trajectory, we know that in five years we will be buried under a debt load that will be next to impossible to overcome.’”

Stu Bykofsky, one of the Inquirer’s most revered columnists, penned his last column today, after 47 years at the paper. Not a retirement, but instead a “voluntary separation agreement.” As he wrote, “It did not come as a surprise. No hanky in my hands. What happened to me has happened to hundreds of my colleagues and millions of other Americans.” 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January, regarding the imperilment: 

Just this year, the Inquirer received multiple top national awards for its three-part investigative series, “Toxic City: Sick Schools,” which exposed mold, lead, and asbestos in local schools, protecting children across the city. This is just one example of the necessity of properly-funded, free press. But, that is at risk, in Philadelphia and across the nation.

Stu is, unfortunately, correct. Hundreds of our colleagues and millions of Americans have faced buyouts, layoffs, and ‘voluntary separation agreements,’ especially in the journalism industry as of late. We’ve stood in his shoes, and watched as our friends have faced the same fate by the same culprit: big tech. 

Facebook, Google, and big tech have consumed the digital landscape, and their hunger for more power continues to threaten local journalism. Across the aisle, elected officials agree that this is a critical issue, and it’s time for them to step in, rein in big tech, and save the journalism industry.