Susan Benzinger, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said officials were considering whether to appeal the ruling.
The newspapers filed suit challenging the state's lethal-injection protocol ahead of the scheduled Oct. 3 execution of Terrance Williams, convicted in the 1984 bludgeoning death of a Philadelphia man. Williams' case was stayed by a Philadelphia judge.
The current protocol limits what witnesses can see by requiring that a curtain between the injection chamber and the witness observation room be closed during three phases of the execution process when prison staff are in the death chamber.
The curtain is closed when the inmate is brought in and medical preparations are made, during any necessary consciousness check after the administration of the first drug, and during the coroner's examination of the inmate after the administration of the final two lethal-injection drugs.
The state argued that it obscured the view to protect the identities of those administering the lethal drugs.
The state Pardons Board voted unanimously Wednesday not to grant clemency to Michael, 56, who pleaded guilty to the 1993 murder of a York County girl, 16.
The state Supreme Court refused Monday to stay the execution, and a federal judge did the same Tuesday.
A lawyer representing The Inquirer called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment. "Starting with public hangings up to electrocution, when the press sat in the room with the condemned, up until lethal injections, witnesses saw the whole procedure. That established the First Amendment right to see the whole procedure," said Stephen Shapiro. "The state fears that people involved will be retaliated against, but they have no evidence of that."
William K. Marimow, The Inquirer's editor, said that given the intensity of interest in the death penalty, it was vital that journalists witness the entire execution process.
He said that by allowing reporters to document the process, the public could determine whether the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
"The more access the public has to government proceedings," Marimow said, "the better a democracy will be."
Contact Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @inkyamy.