WaPo staffers duke it out over article

On Friday two Washington Post staffers came to blows with one another over how a story was written for the Style section of the paper.

Washingtonian.com and Washington City Paper both reported it.

Details were sparse, but it seems feature editor Henry Allen punched feature writer Manuel Roig-Franzi.

Washingtonian.com reported the following:

“It should be noted that Allen is nearly seventy, but he served in the Marines in Vietnam. He also won a Pulitzer prize in 2000 for criticism. Both apparently came into play when Allen jumped Roig-Franzia.

According to many sources, the incident began when Style editor Ned Martel assigned a semi-political story to Monica Hesse and Roig-Franzia. Playing off of an inadvertent disclosure last week that many congressmen are being investigated for ethics violations, Martel asked the two Style writers to compile a list of similar disclosures in the past. They came up with a ‘charticle’ with a dozen examples, starting with Robert E. Lee’s Civil War battle plans for Antietam showing up wrapped around cigars.”

Apparently Allen didn't like the story.

“This is total crap. It’s the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years,” Allen reportedly said.

Washington City Paper reported that Roig-Franzia heard this and took offense.

“Henry, don’t be such a cocksucker,” he reportedly said to Allen.

Oddly enough, a fist-fight ensued.

Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli had to break up the fight.

Upon first reading these reports, I thought it was awesome.

I reminded me of the stories I always heard about journalists. Jounos seem to always be depicted as a beer-swilling, cigar-smoking, swearing lot who work hard and play harder. The type that aren’t afraid to stand up for their and the rights of others.

That’s what makes me love being a journalist.

I have some bad habits, such as swearing excessively more often than I should, but that is OK as a journalist as long as I get my stories and make the deadlines.

It’s a face-paces world. I love it.

I also stand up for my work because I am passionate about it. If someone was really tearing it down, I wouldn’t sit by idly.

I wouldn’t necessarily throw a punch either, but I would defend it with passion.

That’s what these two at The Washington Post did. I say, bravo. If you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, why keep doing it? Get out of the way and let someone else who is going to care more perform the duties.

I’m not the only one who carries such a sentiment.

Gene Weingarten, who writes a humor column for The Washington Post and hosts a weekly chat online in the Live Q&As section called “Chatological Humor,” said he was happy to see a fight broke out.

“The first thing I want to say is, hooray. Hooray that there is still enough passion left somewhere in a newsroom in America for violence to break out between colorful characters in disagreement over the quality of a story,” he said. “Newsrooms used to be places filled with interesting eccentrics driven by unreasonable passions — a situation thought of as ‘creative tension’ and often encouraged by management in eras when profits were high and arrogance was seen not as a flaw but a perquisite of being smart and right. Sadly, over the years newsrooms have come to resemble insurance offices peopled by the blanched and the pinched and the beetle-browed; lately, with layoffs thought to be on the horizon, everyone also behaves extra nicely to please the boss.”

Journalism is hurting. There’s no doubt about that. I’m still passionate about what I do, even if it isn’t for one of the big-name publications. I’m glad to see that those people I look up to at those big news outlets still care too.

I can’t wait for my first fist-fight over a story.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.

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