American daily newspaper The Washington Post reinstated a reporter after suspending her over tweets about Kobe Bryant’s high-profile sexual assault allegations from 2003 in the wake of his death.
As the world mourned the loss of one of basketball’s most celebrated players, Felicia Sonmez made rounds on Twitter after she posted a link to an article that detailed the allegations. The reporter received multiple death threats for Bryant’s fans.
Later on, The Washington Post decided to suspend Sonmez which prompted hundreds of her co-workers to condemn the news outlet. The newspaper’s managing editor Tracy Grant described the reporter’s posts as “ill-timed”, but clarified that they did not breach the paper’s policies.
“We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths,” Grant’s statement read. “We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter.”
Over 300 Washington Post employees signed a petition in support of Sonmez on Tuesday. Petitioners included Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists David Fahrenthold and Beth Reinhard, and White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker as per BBC.
On Twitter, the saga continued as Sonmez urged the paper’s chief editor Marty Baron to explain why Washington Post handled the situation the way it did. The reporter also noted that her tweets were “a matter of public record”.
The Washington Post Guild supported the decision to reinstate Sonmez but expressed its disappointment that the paper did not give Sonmez a formal apology. It also urged the company to prioritize the safety of its staff in the future.
And Sonmez herself called on chief editor Marty Baron to explain why the paper handled the issue as it did, and stressed that she had tweeted about “a matter of public record”. See the reporter’s full official statement in her tweet below:
I believe that Washington Post readers and employees, including myself, deserve to hear directly from @PostBaron on the newspaper’s handling of this matter. My statement on The Post’s decision tonight: pic.twitter.com/t5ULzUQhYT
— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) January 29, 2020