After Employee Backlash, WaPo Reverses Suspension

Felicia Sonmez was suspended for tweeting about Kobe Bryant rape allegation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2020 12:11 AM CST
Post Reinstates Reporter Suspended for Bryant Tweet
In this July 18, 2003 photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, hold hands during a news conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles   (AP Photo/Jerome T. Nakagawa, File)

(Newser) – After an outcry from more than 400 of its own employees, the Washington Post has reversed its decision to suspend a reporter who tweeted about the 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant soon after the NBA star's death Sunday. Managing editor Tracy Grant said Tuesday that while Felicia Sonmez's tweet linking to a 2016 Daily Beast story was "ill-timed," she "was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy," NBC reports. Hundreds of Post employees had added their names to a statement from the union that represents newsroom employees, which criticized the Post for suspending Sonmez instead of supporting her after she "received an onslaught of violent messages, including threats that contained her home address."

The employees urged the Post to update its social media policies, which date from 2011. "I hope Washington Post newsroom leaders will not only prioritize their employees’ safety in the face of threats of physical harm but also ensure that no journalist will be punished for speaking the truth," Sonmez tweeted Tuesday. She tells the New York Times that she deliberately didn't add any remarks to the Sunday tweet. "Because the Post does have policies governing these things, all I did was tweet out a link to the story," she says. "I didn’t think it was my place to provide any further commentary." (Read more Kobe Bryant stories.)

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