Karen Heller Says Goodbye at Inky

Longtime columnist is moving to the Washington Post.

Karen Heller, the longtime Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, is leaving that job to become a features writer at the Washington Post.

Heller made the announcement Sunday in her final column.

A few years ago, the editors asked me to try on the metro column. It was great to take a risk, to be a bit scared. Often twice a week. This was no job for the weak of stomach. There’s nothing like taking a call, then being placed on hold so a governor can yell at you.

The column became a passkey to the region. The greatest privilege this paper offered was to tell the stories of those people whose lives might never have been reported, to sit on steps and courtroom benches, in hospitals and kitchens, in the visiting room at Graterford Prison with a man incarcerated for more than half a century to listen, observe, and attempt to shed light.

The Inquirer has been roiled by turbulence. This was no place for the weak. Every spring or two brought a new owner, a new plan, and, often, chaos. This fabled paper kept churning, this amazing newsroom pushing against the tide.

One attraction of the Post — aside from the fact that its Style section is fabled and a great late-career change for somebody like Heller — is that paper, unlike many in the industry, is relatively stable for the moment: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper last year, ended layoffs, and start pumping his money into the product. Whether that can last remains to be seen, but for now it’s not a bad place for a journalist