WaPo’s Chief Editor Sends Staff Email About Social Media After Reporter’s Suspension

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Washington Post’s executive editor Marty Baron sent a staff-wide email addressing the publication’s social media policies Thursday after a reporter was suspended over tweets about NBA star Kobe Bryant.

Felicia Sonmez, a national politics reporter for the Washington Post, tweeted out a story from the Daily Beast about Bryant’s rape case shortly after reports of his death Sunday. Sonmez faced massive backlash after her tweet and subsequently posted images of her inbox to show the threats she was receiving.

WaPo cleared Sonmez of any wrongdoing Tuesday evening and Sonmez issued a statement demanding Baron address the situation. Baron’s statement addressed many things regarding social media, but he stopped short of giving an opinion on WaPo’s decision to suspend Sonmez.

“We do not want social media to be a distraction, and we do not want it to give a false impression of the tenor of our coverage,” Baron wrote. “It is not always easy to know where to draw the line.”

WaPo’s top editor acknowledged that “coverage has been complicated by social media.” He added that how the publication responds when a reporter may have crossed its lines is “a matter deserving of thoughtful discussion.”

Baron also asked for feedback from staff members on how to navigate social media “while safeguarding” WaPo’s reputation. (RELATED: ABC News Suspends Correspondent Over False Report On Kobe Bryant’s Death)