A Washington Post features editor was denied a promotion days after the paper’s internet reporter Taylor Lorenz publicly criticized him on Twitter for a “miscommunication” involving one of her stories, according to a report.
David Malitz, a deputy features editor who oversees coverage of culture, arts, and entertainment, was lined up for a promotion to run the features department, according to The New York Times.
Malitz was initially promised the promotion by Sally Buzbee, the Washington Post’s executive editor.
But Buzbee rescinded the promotion just days after Lorenz, who has frequently been involved in controversy dating back to her stint as a reporter with The New York Times, took to Twitter to complain about Malitz’s edit on one of her stories.
A spokesperson for The Washington Post told the New York Post that Lorenz’s tweet wasn’t intended to be criticism of Malitz and that there was no linkage between the tweet and the denial of Malitz’s promotion.
“It is absolutely untrue that Taylor’s tweets had anything to do with management decisions,” Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told the New York Post.
When asked why the promotion offer was rescinded, Coratti declined to comment.
The New York Post has reached out to Malitz and Lorenz seeking comment.
The latest brouhaha erupted on June 2, when Lorenz authored a story titled “Who won the Depp-Heard trial? Content creators that went all-in.”
The story delved into social media influencers who amassed page views and clicks by covering the salacious defamation lawsuit filed by Amber Heard against her ex-husband Johnny Depp.
The original version of Lorenz’s story stated that two YouTube creators — Alyte Mazeika and another user who goes by the name “ThatUmbrellaGuy” — were contacted for comment before publication.
But the two influencers went on social media and claimed that they were never contacted by Lorenz. The reporter only reached out to them after the fact, according to the influencers.
Soon afterwards, FoxNews.com noticed that The Washington Post “stealth edited” the story and deleted the claim. Fox News is owned by Fox Corp., a sister company of The New York Post’s corporate parent, News Corp.
The Washington Post then published several corrections as well as an editor’s note in hopes of quelling the controversy.
But the editor’s note stated that “only Mazeika was asked” for comment — this despite the fact that Lorenz herself admitted that she only reached out for a response to both creators after the story was already live.
A story in The Daily Beast from Thursday identified Malitz as the editor who was responsible for the note.
Lorenz tweeted that a miscommunication with her editor is what led to the inaccurate line that was included in the initial version of her story — prompting a backlash which accused the reporter of shirking responsibility and laying the blame elsewhere.
“Last Thursday, an incorrect line was added to a story of mine before publishing due to a miscommunication with an editor,” Lorenz tweeted on June 4.
“I did not write the line and was not aware it was inserted. I asked for it to be removed right after the story went live.”
Lorenz added: “This should have been a small correction for a miscommunication, but it turned into a multi-day media cycle, intentionally aimed at discrediting the Washington Post and me.”
After Lorenz’s tweet, Buzbee rescinded Malitz’s promotion offer, sparking anger among staffers, according to the Times.
Some staffers angrily confronted Buzbee over her treatment of Malitz. But the executive editor said Malitz was “in no way reprimanded or punished for any errors.”
Buzbee declined to specify the reasoning for rescinding the promotion offer.
The Washington Post newsroom has been in turmoil in recent weeks, which has led staffers to cast doubt on Buzbee’s leadership.
Staffers were reportedly unhappy over Buzbee’s handling of the controversy surrounding former political reporter Felicia Sonmez, who was fired after posting tweets critical of management.
Sonmez ignited a firestorm when she publicly called out colleague Dave Weigel’s retweet of a joke that was deemed by some to be sexist.
“Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” Sonmez tweeted. Weigel deleted the retweet and apologized, but the uproar led management to suspend him for a month without pay.
Days later, Buzbee circulated a memo reminding staffers to be “collegial” with each other online, but another Post reporter sent a “reply-all” email in support of Sonmez.
That prompted management to cut off staffers’ ability to send reply-all emails, according to the New York Times.
Sonmez was fired last week after a days-long tweetstorm chiding top editors for not adequately disciplining other reporters who pleaded for her to stop, including Jose Del Real and Lisa Rein.