World

Felicia Sonmez Is Fired by The Washington Post

Felicia Sonmez, a reporter for The Washington Post who in recent days has been at the center of a debate over the organization’s social media policies and the culture of the newsroom, was fired on Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

In an emailed termination letter, which was viewed by The New York Times, Ms. Sonmez was told that The Post was ending her employment, effective immediately, “for misconduct that includes insubordination, maligning your co-workers online and violating The Post’s standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity.”

The email also said Ms. Sonmez’s “public attempts to question the motives of your co-journalists” undermined The Post’s reputation.

“We cannot allow you to continue to work as a journalist representing The Washington Post,” the letter said.

Reached by email, Ms. Sonmez declined to comment. Her internal Slack account was deactivated by Thursday afternoon, according to a screenshot viewed by The Times.

Ms. Sonmez, a national political reporter, sued the paper and several top editors in 2021, saying they had discriminated against her by barring her from covering stories about sexual assault after she had publicly identified herself as a victim of assault. The case was dismissed in March, and Ms. Sonmez’s lawyer at the time said she planned to appeal.

In the past week, she has been at the center of a public firestorm over the newsroom’s culture. On Friday, Dave Weigel, a political reporter at the paper, retweeted a sexist joke that implied women were either bisexual or bipolar. Ms. Sonmez then tweeted, “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” Mr. Weigel apologized for the tweet, and was later suspended by The Post for a month.

In the following days, Ms. Sonmez wrote a series of posts on Twitter about the newsroom culture at The Post and what she said was the uneven way its social media policy was applied to different reporters. At times she jousted with fellow journalists at The Post on Twitter.

Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of The Post, subsequently wrote two memos to the newsroom asking for colleagues not to attack each other on social media.

“The newsroom social media policy points specifically to the need for collegiality,” Ms. Buzbee wrote in an email on Tuesday.

Benjamin Mullin contributed reporting.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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