Washington Post Staff Sign Letter Supporting Reporter Suspended Over Kobe Bryant Tweet

Sonmez was put on leave after tweeting about Bryant's 2003 rape allegation

Kobe Bryant Inducted into Hall of Fame
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007.
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / January 28, 2020 2:10 pm

More than 300 Washington Post staff members have signed a letter from its union, the Washington Post Guild, questioning the newspaper’s decision to suspend reporter Felicia Sonmez after she tweeted out an article about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape allegation in the wake of his death on Sunday.

Since then, Sonmez’s home address has been posted online by an angry fan, and the Guild’s letter to managing editor Tracy Grant and editor-in-chief Marty Baron claims that she “has gotten insufficient guidance from The Post on how to protect herself.”

The letter also argues that sharing a factual news article is not grounds for suspension.

“We have repeatedly seen colleagues — including members of management — share contentious opinions on social media platforms without sanction,” it reads. “But here a valued colleague is being censured for making a statement of fact. Felicia did nothing more than what The Post’s own news stories have done when she shared an article about the past allegation against Bryant.”

Post reporter Amber Phillips shared the Guild’s letter on Twitter and also added, “I feel like any one of us reporters could be suspended at a moment’s notice.”

The Post‘s op-ed section also ran a piece by its media critic Erik Wemple slamming the decision to suspend Sonmez. “If journalists at The Post are prone to suspension for tweeting stories off their beats, the entire newsroom should be on administrative leave,” he wrote.

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