The Washington Post found itself mired in a controversy amid the flurry of reporting that followed the death of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash Sunday.
The AP reports that the Post placed a political reporter on administrative leave after she tweeted a link to a story about rape allegations against Bryant from 2003. Dozens of journalists at the paper reportedly criticized the decision.
“Reporter Felicia Sonmez’s tweet Sunday, amid widespread public mourning over Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash, drew considerable backlash on social media. The Post reported that Somnez received threats of death and rape and had to move to a hotel after her home address was published online,” the AP reports.
Somnez deleted the original tweet at the request of a managing editor, according to the Post.
The AP report quotes an email Somnez received from executive editor Marty Baron saying: “A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this.”
Somnez was reportedly placed on paid leave while newsroom managers look into the incident.
“Sonmez said Monday night that she remains suspended and doesn’t know how long it will last. She said she’s been working closely with the Washington Post Newspaper Guild and there may be a meeting with management soon,” the AP reports.
The report notes that members of the Guild protested the suspension. “They also noted that Somnez had ‘received an onslaught of violent messages’ and ‘has gotten insufficient guidance from the Post on how to protect herself,'” the AP adds.
Guild members are quoted writing: “We understand the hours after Bryant’s death Sunday were a fraught time to share reporting about past accusations of sexual assault. The loss of such a beloved figure, and of so many other lives, is a tragedy. But we believe it is our responsibility as a news organization to tell the public the whole truth as we know it — about figures and institutions both popular and unpopular, at moments timely and untimely.”