Tommy Rowan, Philly, September 29, 2015
Philadelphia Magazine issued an apology on its website Tuesday afternoon after an onslaught of negative reaction to the cover of its October 2015 issue.
The lead story on the diversity of education in city schools features a photo that has no African American students, even though the featured school is 60 percent non-white.
Tom McGrath, the magazine’s editor, took responsibility for the photo, which shows seven students from Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School sitting along a brick wall outside its Center City campus.
“We blew it,” McGrath wrote. “To include not even one African American child on the cover fails to reflect not just the diversity that exists at the Greenfield School, but also that within the city of Philadelphia.”
“I’ll offer no excuses here about process,” he added. “At the end of the day, I chose this photo for the cover, and it was without question the wrong choice.”
The title of the article, “A city parent’s guide to schools: How to get your kid a great education . . . without moving to the ‘burbs,” was intended to be a parental reference for choosing a city school, including public, private, parochial, and charter schools.
But when the cover neglected to reflect the racial diversity of the city’s schools–52 percent black, 19 percent Hispanic, 14 percent white, 15 percent other races–backlash spread across social media Monday night into Tuesday morning.
The magazine’s cover is the second controversial one involving race that the the publication has defended in the last 2 1/2 years. The March 2013 cover story, which documented a middle-aged white writer’s experience interacting with the city’s majority-black residents, was published with the headline “Being White in Philly.”
After this story appeared, the magazine pledged to hire more minority staffers. Two messages left with the newsroom were not immediately returned.
In his apology, McGrath gave this status report: “We made some progress, but obviously not nearly enough.”