Fox 29’s Steve Keeley Under Fire From Reporters and Councilperson for Crime Coverage

"It's embarrassing," says one Fox 29 insider of Keeley's reporting. Plus: What's with my ridiculous PGW bill?

steve keeley from fox 29 reporting on Philadelphia crime

Steve Keeley from Fox 29 reporting on Philadelphia crime (image via Fox 29, video embedded below)

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Fox 29’s Steve Keeley Under Fire From Reporters and Councilperson for Philadelphia Crime Coverage

On Thursday, I reported on a new study about the Philadelphia media world. I pointed out that of the Philadelphia media outlets studied (and there were many), Fox 29 leads the charge by far in terms of the quantity of crime reporting on the network. I thought that would be the end of it, but then a curious thing happened.

Veteran journalists at well-established Philadelphia media outlets don’t generally stick their necks out to criticize one of their peers. (Though you may not consider me a veteran journalist or Philly Mag a well-established outlet, two points we can argue about over a PBR sometime, I’m an exception to this rule, because Philadelphia doesn’t have enough media criticism, and it needs it.) So I was surprised when two did just that.

First up was Cherri Gregg. She worked at KYW Newsradio for many years before switching over to Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate, WHYY, where you can hear her for several hours each day. Since 2021, Gregg has essentially become “the voice” of WHYY.

Gregg took to Facebook shortly after I published my story and wrote the following:

I rarely speak badly of news outlets — BUT Steve Keeley FOX 29’s coverage of crime — definitely makes me cringe. Crime coverage can be very harmful and scares people.

I have been working with my fellow Board Members at Law & Justice Journalism Project to train journalists to do better. Our crime coverage must be community centered — otherwise it can be harmful, sensationalized and disproportionate to what is really happening. AND who gets harmed?? Black and brown people… Black communities and Black men.

Meanwhile, veteran Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong, who previously worked for the likes of the Washington Post and the Associated Press, also had something to say. She wrote on Facebook: “His Twitter feed is also disturbing.”

Ah yes, his Twitter feed. Keeley’s Twitter account takes his doom-and-gloom, the city is going to hell, the junkies are everywhere approach to a completely different level. It is the Citizen app on steroids. Just have a look and you’ll see what I mean. It’s easy to see why Armstrong would find it “disturbing.”

Gregg and Armstrong aren’t the only Black women to take issue with Keeley. First-term City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier also has concerns. She had an online run-in with Keeley in 2021 involving some of Keeley’s activities on his aforementioned Twitter page.

Here’s what Gauthier wrote on Facebook back then:

So get this: racist anti-Krasner, anti-progressive trolls fill up my Twitter mentions with crap, nonsense, and nastiness on a daily basis. As if that’s not bad enough in and of itself, today, Steve Keeley over at Fox 29 thought it’d be a good idea to retweet one of them who lied on me saying that I encouraged the drag-racing at City Hall, last night, which has led to harassment on social media for hours. How’s that for journalism?

Reached by phone on Thursday night, Gauthier said that while crime reporting is important, it’s essential that outlets “cover crime in a full and comprehensive way.” And she charges that Keeley doesn’t do that. “He just broadcasts fear and trauma,” she says. “It feels like a dog whistle to me. His coverage can be inhumane. His flavor isn’t helpful. In fact, it’s harmful.”

Keeley didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on this story. But one Fox 29 insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says that the subject of Keeley’s style of coverage has come up as a concern at the station. “It’s embarrassing,” says the source about Keeley’s Philadelphia crime coverage. Another told me that, at the end of the day, Keeley is a good person.

Fox 29 co-anchor Mike Jerrick actually nodded to Keeley’s, shall we say, unique style of crime reporting in a 2021 video commemorating Keeley’s 25th anniversary at Fox 29. (The full video is embedded below.)

“If Steve is talking about crime,” says Jerrick. “He does it like nobody else.”

I think we can all agree on that, Mike.

The Trolleys Are Coming! The Trolleys Are Coming!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a real train geek, which is probably why I many years ago took a train all the way from Philadelphia to New Orleans instead of just hopping on the cheaper, much-faster flight. It’s probably why I also wrote a song about trains. But I digress. In case you haven’t heard, SEPTA is getting a bunch of new trolleys. And I love this look back at Philadelphia’s trolley history compiled by Billy Penn.

Forget GLOW

If I say “girls who wrestle” and your immediate thought is GLOW, aka the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, you’re behind the times. Girls are big into wrestling (the real kind) these days. And the Inquirer has a profile of one promising young grappler that’s worth a read.

All that said, GLOW was fun in its time. You can watch the series based on it on Netflix.

Local Talent

I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Chris Rock stand-up special on Netflix yet. If you haven’t, you’re not missing much. Definitely some good laughs. But the pacing was off. And this is not Rock at his best. The big talk from the special, though, is that Rock finally addressed the whole Will Smith issue. And boy, Rock didn’t pull any punches in his attack on the pride of Overbrook High and his wife. Now, according to an Entertainment Tonight report, Smith is embarrassed and hurt over Rock’s remarks. Even though he claims he didn’t watch the show.

I dunno. If I were Will Smith, I think I would just take my hundreds of millions of dollars and try to forget about it.

By the Numbers

7: The number of suspects identified in the terrifying attack on a woman in Center City.
3: The number of those suspects who’ve turned themselves in, all teenagers.
$189: The ridiculous amount of my PGW bill, especially considering the fact that I’ve only run my heater three days this entire winter. (Yeah, this whole high PGW bill is a thing).
2: The number of former mayors who just wrote an op-ed saying the next mayor of Philadelphia should be the one to make the call about the new Sixers arena in Chinatown.
800: The approximate number of Central Bucks alumnae who’ve signed a letter condemning recent district policies that are “discriminatory and dangerous.”

And from the That’s-That Sports Desk …

The Phillies beat the Orioles, 7-6, with the help of Aaron Nola’s pitching, two homers from Edmundo Sosa, and one round-trip each by Bryson Stott and Aramis Garcia. They’ll play the Pirates today at 1:05, the Yankees tomorrow at 1:05, and the Blue Jays on Sunday, also at 1:05.

The Trail Blazers visit the Sixers tonight at seven, and the Wizards come to town on Sunday at six.

The Union play the Chicago Fire tomorrow at 7:30 at Subaru Park. Bundle up, Doopers! It’s gonna be a cold one.

In college hoops, St. Joe’s Hawks got their wings clipped by second seed Dayton in the Atlantic 10 tournament, 60-54. La Salle faced number three Fordham in that same conference tourney and was down 11 at the half, but battled back to within two early in the second half and kept it close till the last few minutes, when Fordham came on strong.

The Villanova Wildcats played number three Creighton — one of the ranked opponents they already knocked off this season — and had a terrible game, trailing 32-23 at the half. Nothing was falling for them. They pulled to within nine on an 11-0 run with five minutes left, but it was too little, too late. Just a disastrous performance at the worst possible time.

Fifth-seeded Temple has a first-round AAC tournament game against number four Cincinnati this afternoon at three.

On Saturday, third-seeded Penn has a rematch against second-seeded Princeton at 1:30 in the semifinal round of the Ivy League Tournament. Just last Saturday, the Tigers beat the Quakers, 77-69, in the regular-season finale.

The Flyers also played.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.