Washington Post's Marty Barton e-mails staff about social media - iMediaEthics

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Without ever using Felicia Sonmez’s name, Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron e-mailed staff a memo about social media use and Post security.

Sonmez was suspended — then reinstated — after her tweets about Kobe Bryant and the 2003 rape allegation against him. After being reinstated, Sonmez called for Baron to explain what went wrong.

In his e-mail, which was posted on Twitter by CNN reporter Oliver Darcy, Baron said staff’s “safety should never be in jeopardy, and we will always do everything possible to make sure it never is.”

Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti confirmed the memo to iMediaEthics. iMediaEthics asked if Baron considered his memo a response to Sonmez’s call for an explanation, but the Post declined to comment. Given the New York Timesprevious report that Post managing editor Tracy Grant suggested Sonmez stay in a hotel or at a friend’s place due to the controversy, iMediaEthics asked if Sonmez was reimbursed for any such expenses. The Post also declined to comment.

iMediaEthics has written to Sonmez to ask if she was satisfied with Baron’s response and if she was reimbursed for any expenses arising from her period of suspension.

Regarding staff social media use on breaking stories, Baron wrote, “There are themes that run through that policy: (1) The reputation of The Post must prevail over any on individual’s desire for expression. (2) We should always exercise care and restraint.”

Baron continued, “Especially on the most sensitive stories, we want our coverage to be defined by the reporters and editors who have direct responsibility for it. We count on staffers to be attuned to how their social media activity will be perceived, bearing in the mind that time, place and manner really matter. We do not want social media activity to a distraction, and we do not want it to give a false impression of the tenor of our coverage.”

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Washington Post’s Marty Barton e-mails staff about social media

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