Tuesday afternoon, Washington Post journalist Josh Dawsey tweeted that he was “proud” to work at the newspaper, a place “full of many great, smart, collegial people”. Four minutes later, reporter Rosalind Helderman, too, tweeted that she was “proud” to work at the Job, which is “always striving to be better than he was yesterday”. Six minutes later, another journalist, Amy Gardner, tweeted how “proud” she was to work at the newspaper, followed by other the publication’s top journalists, such as Matt Viser, Carol Leonnig, and Dan Balz.
The public outpouring of Job pride – which I was told political reporters were urging each other to join – followed the editor Sally Buzbeememorandum reiterating workplace policies and promoting collegiality among staff. The memo fell after a few days at the Job which was, as one reporter described it, a “clusterfuck.” Dave Weigel, a national political correspondent, is, effective Monday, suspended without pay for the next month after he retweeted a sexist tweet last week, which he then quickly unshared and apologized because after a colleague called him on both the Slack company and publicly. Hours after Weigel’s suspension was announced on Monday, this fellow political journalist Felicia Sonmez, has been urging the newspaper to bring an action against another colleague, Jose Del Real, who saturday aimed to Sonmez for “the cruelty you regularly unleash against your colleagues”. (He made the point after praising Sonmez for “your bravery in sharing your story,” adding, “I support your fight against retaliation for this.”
Meanwhile, in another corner of Twitter on Saturday, Taylor Lorenz-the star Job tech writer and social media lightning rod – was explaining how “miscommunication with an editor” led to an error in a recent Job piece while firing back at critics and CNN reporter Olivier Darcy, was covering The Incident.
The Job the drama spilling publicly on Twitter has rattled the newsroom, where there is no shortage of opinions on the continued fallout. “I think Felicia was initially right – it was a rude tweet from Dave Weigel, and we were all grateful she brought attention to it,” one said. Job the staff member told me. The problem, the staff member added, was “to keep making it a problem and suing more and more colleagues”. And as one reporter said of Lorenz, “Taylor is very talented, but her personal antics often overshadow her journalism.”
Sonmez, Lorenz and Weigel declined to comment for this article.
The social media meltdown has shone a spotlight on Buzbee, who celebrated her one-year anniversary as the paper’s editor last week. Staff use of Twitter plagued Buzbee’s predecessor, Marty Baron, who challenged with how journalists, including Sonmez, used Twitter but failed to adopt a new social media policy. (Other legacy publications, such as The New York Time, were also tested by their journalists’ social media usage – something Dean Baquet which we often talk about, above all on his way.) The consequences of this inaction now fall on Buzbee, as the JobThe social media policy is “enforced so intermittently, if at all, that it leaves it up to the more extreme characters to end up getting us into these kinds of situations,” one reporter said.
In the Tuesday note, Buzbee said he shares newsroom values and emphasized how employees should treat each other. “We do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues face to face or online. Respect for others is essential for any civil society, including our newsroom,” she wrote. “The Newsroom’s Social Media Policy specifically emphasizes the need for collegiality.”
“Last year, we enforced, through conversations, mediations and disciplinary actions, gross violations of our social media policy, just as we enforced our general standards,” Buzbee added. “As we said, we plan to update the Social Media Policy. Until then, the current policy remains in effect. It states: When it comes to your colleagues, be constructive and collegial: If you have a question or concern about something that has been posted, speak directly to your colleague. We respect and do not wish to interfere with the right of any employee to raise legitimate workplace issues. We know it takes courage to report concerns. And we are committed to addressing issues brought to us openly and honestly. We acted quickly to show our intolerance of a sexist retweet sent by an employee last Friday.
While a number of Job reporters took to Twitter to praise the paper, one I spoke to was unimpressed with Buzbee’s memo because not only did it sound like a reading of pre-existing media policies social media, but he also didn’t explain the inconsistency – why Weigel was suspended but not Sonmez or Del Real, both of whom presumably violated the non-disparagement rule she cited in the e- mail.