The world is still mourning the loss of one of America’s most revered athletes, with Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, dying in a helicopter crash just outside of Los Angeles earlier in the week.
As is usually the case, the hours and days that follow feature tributes of all kinds, but that doesn’t mean that some important questions weren’t raised about the legacy Bryant leaves behind.
Attention has once again been drawn to the events of June 30, 2003, and the rape accusations against Bryant.
I’m not going to go into the details of the case, because it’s all there in that link above.
As we pointed out yesterday, you can both mourn the loss of a father, husband, and sports icon, while pointing out that he has a deeply problematic past.
That being said, when Felicia Sonmez, a reporter for the Washington Post, raised the issue of the 2003 case, she was harassed online and suspended from her job.
More from W24:
Explaining the newspaper’s decision to suspend Felicia, Managing Editor at The Washington Post, Tracy Grant, in a statement, said, “The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”
The Washington Post also published an opinion piece by media critic, Erik Wemple, which detailed how Felicia reported the abuse she was receiving from Twitter trolls after posting the rape case story to her managers and how she was subsequently instructed to delete the tweets – which she later did.
In another article by The Washington Post, Felicia is quoted as saying she tweeted to fill out the omitted details of Kobe’s life. “The seriousness of those allegations is a valid part of his legacy and his life. Those allegations should not be minimized in any way,” she reportedly said.
According to Grant, Felicia was suspended whilst the Post conducted an investigation of whether she had violated the company’s social media policy.
As the uproar surrounding the suspension grew, the Post began to feel the pinch, and they released a statement on Tuesday saying that they had reinstated Felicia.
…Grant said in a statement that “after conducting an internal review, we have determined that, while we consider Felicia’s tweets ill-timed, she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy.”
Grant added, “Reporters on social media represent The Washington Post, and our policy states ‘we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence.’ We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter.”
Felicia wasn’t impressed with that statement and has called for a response from Marty Baron, the Post’s executive editor, with regards how they handled this matter.
Here’s her full statement:
You don’t have to listen too hard to hear people around the world saying ‘too soon’ when speaking about Bryant’s past. For those who have been abused, and bullied into remaining silent, when is the right time?
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