What Will You Do When the Culture War Comes for You?

Newsrooms still aren’t ready for the trolls.

Comments: 263

  1. Two points: 1. The WaPo editors’ initial response (suspending the reporter) was chickensh__; and 2. Remember that Twitter is primarily a thing for media and entertainment folk. Most people have very little interaction with it. While Twitter things can reverberate in the media/entertainment segment, their impact elsewhere is trivial, so don’t overestimate the impact of anything there. Trimp’s twitblasts are an exception to that but, then again, he came out of the entertainment segment and he’s just using it to score points.

  2. @J P Felicia's Twitter post of an article discussing Kobe's rape charges while people are still actively mourning is not illegal not in violation of wapo standards but is universally recognized as deliberately provocative. In fact, she has a long history of deliberately provocative opinions and actions that has become her "brand" more or less. Which, ok I guess. You do you. But like we all tell all the other right wing provocateurs who have received their death threats and complained about it....Somnez has freedom of speech but not the freedom from the consequences of that speech whether personal or professional. 300 coworkers may have saved her job yesterday but she shouldn't be surprised if her "brand" of cancel culture provocateur becomes more of a liability than an asset at some point in the near future and she finds herself unemployed. Histrionics become very distracting for the public and the corner office. Quickly.

  3. @J P The WaPo reporter stuck her finger in the eye of many people and she did so with an agenda and an axe to grind. Hit the link to the WaPo story and then the link in the WaPo story to the reporter's prior sexual assault allegation. Then reconsider.

  4. I realize the author is a huge fan of the platform. So tangled it is, says Yoda, that Twitter is the Gordian knot of social media that cannot easily be untied. Except ... it is so much easier to cut than the original, by getting off it, and staying off. Now I realize an old fogey like me doesn't realize how important it is for reasons, and how nowadays reporters need to have a well-liked Twitter presence so that something. Or maybe not. I realize, as well, that a raft of Pulitzer prizes is waiting for the well-Twittered reporter. Or maybe not. Finally, I realize that no reporter worth their salt can nowadays barely breathe, let alone report, without immersion in the electronic glitter of our age. Or maybe not.

  5. The one that needs to be suspended is the manager who suspended Ms Sonmez. If management does not have the integrity to back up their employees, they will end up with a news room of milquetoasts. I am sure that Ms Sonmez got the message to be careful and to watch her back because the Post will betray her. Her tweet not only did not violate any reasonable policy, it could be argued that she was doing exactly what a journalist should be doing, pointing out Bryant's questionable history while the plethora of laudatory posts were coming in. Nobody is perfect, certainly not Mr. Bryant in his youth, although based on reports he seemed have grown into an admirable man. I'm glad I don't work for the Post where I would have to constantly be on guard. In a week that includes the Mary Louise Kelly / Mike Pompeo dustup and the Jeff Bezos / Saudi phone hack controversy, I have to ask which side the Washington Post management is on.

  6. @Condelucanor It was a tacky and mean-spirited move. The rape situation was NEVER hidden, completely covered (as well it should have been), but it did not completely define his life, nor who he was. While the bodies were still in the wreckage, what was the point of tweeting that story? To make people like him less. IT was a dark chapter in his life, and that can't be taken away, but the actions of this 'journalist' were uncalled for. That said, all threatening her life should be jailed.

  7. The point of the tweet was to balance the uncritical adulation being promoted by the media. Celebrity worship is relentlessly ground into the population from all sides. A little perspective on a person’s life brings them down to earth, and separates those who are self-delusional from thosr who actually care about that person as a less than perfect human being.

  8. @DM The deification of Kobe Bryant sent a powerful message to sexual assault survivors that they will never have as much value to society as a man who was good at playing basketball. The point was to tell those survivors that they were seen and that at least one reporter didn’t forget what he did.

  9. Never mind the "culture war." When did it become legal to e-mail threats to journalists? It's been a long time since I took a course on criminal law, but I believe that in most, if not all, jurisdictions, making threats constitutes "assault." If those threats are bad enough to make Ms. Sonmez fear for her life, I'd like to know what law enforcement authorities are doing about it.

  10. @lydgate Especially when the perps signed what appeared to have been their real names. Anonymous threats are harder to track down, but are almost never indicative of real violence. In contrast to mass shooters who have a different psychology (no particular enemy in mind, but a desire to make a name for themselves), perps of real violence against individuals almost never signal in advance. Those who make these threats are just blowing off steam, on line rather than in a bar.

  11. @Jonathan Katz But how are recipients of violent threats to know who is just venting and who means business? They can't, and that's why threatening bodily harm is a crime, whether or not the person making the threats was serious.

  12. @lydgate if those threats were to a high status individual, law enforcement would track the aggressors and arrest them. They have the means to do so. You can count on law enforcement to do exactly nothing to help you when you don't have high status.

  13. In addition to the "culture wars", I think we need to discuss the media's penchant for defending their own.

  14. Mr. Wolfe, since the theme of Mr. Warzel's article is that news organizations are *not* adequately protecting their own, and the Post clearly did not do so in this instance, I'm not sure why you feel there is an unwarranted penchant for the opposite.

  15. @Bill Wolfe Let us also remember that they are out there on the front lines, with publicly available personalities and email addresses, at a time when our culture is more fractured and divided and certainly less civil, and even our president calls for violence against people at his rallies: "Rough her/him up, I'll pay your legal fees," etc. Remember, too, that one of Trump's followers went to an Annapolis newsroom and shot and killed several journalists.

  16. As you observed, you are writing this comment on a defence piece of a journalist by a journalist publicised by a major newspaper/organisation.

  17. Twitter is not news. In fact, it's the opposite of what news is supposed to be: Fact-based, level-headed analysis of important issues that affect this country and the world. I don't understand why journalists are involved in Twitter at all, especially given that columnists like Mr. Warzel continually point out how Twitter is corrupting public discourse. Twitter is fine to use as an investigative source. But if journalists continue to be addicted to using it, I'm afraid it's going to eventually destroy journalism.

  18. @Scott I would have to agree. I really wish that people in the news business would realize that the Twittersphere is far too insular, and only represents a subset of a subset of internet users. I get that Twitter can be a source of quick information, but using it as a continual place of engagement with others is just toxic, in my opinion. I see Twitter for what its good for, a platform for getting quick bytes of information on what's going on in a particular place, at a particular time, but only seek it out when I have a reason to... not to just hang out in.

  19. @Scott : They're not addicted to it. Rather, many newsrooms now require that every reporter make a certain number of posts per workday (typically, tweeting a story that s/he has written plus commenting on some current event). I hate social media, but you need to understand that newspapers are in desperate need of advertisers and of readers who pay for content, and reaching people via social media is one way to drive eyes to the paper's website, which in turn can enable the paper to raise its ad rates (or at least draw advertisers). Newsrooms were assaulted, quickly by the rise of the Internet -- too quickly to figure out, fast, how to respond -- and then came the Great Recession, which hammered the remaining nails in the coffin for many. A lot of newspapers have gone out of business, and those that still exist have cut staff by as much as 50%. Democracy won't survive without a free press, and the free press won't survive without readers who are willing to pay for content -- so please see the situation as it is, and please don't make unkind and inaccurate statements such as "Reporters are addicted to social media." Reporters are far too busy reporting, and reading background materials, to engage in mindless nonsense. I know -- I worked in newsrooms for 15+ years, until the Great Recession ate my job.

  20. @Scott Newsrooms being gutted by corporate raiders, declining ad revenue and readers who feel entitled to never pay a cent for news will destroy journalism far faster than Twitter ever will.

  21. Don't understand the point of/reason for the tweet. Twitter might warrant its storms when some news breaks (though I think it's relatively worthless since I'd rather wait and hear full, substantiated reports). Nevertheless, if the use of it is just for people to "keep their oar in" (to show they're paying attention), then that's their lookout. But--and I am not a fan or particularly familiar with Bryant or basketball--right after a tragic death, it seems shoddy to bring up the assault story when it's been adjudicated, settled, and he admitted his responsibility. Bad judgment on the Tweeter's part, and seemingly egocentric. Twitter may be the Wild West of media, but I suppose that depends on the "tweeter." "National Enquirer" is the WW of journalism, but that doesn't mean the newspaper medium is.

  22. @cmk The tweet was offering balance for the over-the-top tributes that were ignoring a big part of Bryant's legacy. She was doing her job.

  23. @Hmmm Oh, c'mon. It's not up to those who are not grieved about a death to tell others who are that their reactions are "over the top." Bryant's life and legacy were sure to be covered (and have been) in obituaries and think pieces--there was no danger that this incident in his life would not be brought up. The whole point of Twitter is IMMEDIATE so tends toward THE MOMENT. Everyone knows it's a volatile medium, and it's hard to believe that the journalist wasn't being purposely provocative. I can't regard this journalist as pure in motive as "justice with her shining sword."

  24. Perhaps it was bad judgement. But that’s no excuse for people to threaten the woman and her family so much that she has to leave her home.

  25. Most people are not on Twitter. The fact that reporters spend so much time on Twitter almost certainly contributes to most Americans' feelings of alienation from an insular media.

  26. @Jeff I'm not on twitter, but I do not feel alienated from media, nor do I think they're insular. Knowing there are conversations happening that I am not exposed to does not give me FOMO. For one thing, I'm just not interested in most of those convos, or in reading stories parsed into bite sized tweets, or in having my phone endlessly bombarded with cheap thoughts. I can wait until a story / opinion / reporting is thought through thoroughly enough to warrant an actual news article. And like you, I think (perhaps inaccurately) that I am pretty representative of a good sized chunk of other people. Unlike you I wouldn't characterize it as "most Americans" though. Other than having some connection to America, I doubt there is any one unifying thing about "most" Americans at all anymore. But anyway. I think the point is that newsmedia can't both expect writers to be active in the twitter world *for their work* and also never need the protection of their employer there.

  27. @Jeff There are 68 million monthly active Twitter users in the US, and 262 other international users. 0.2% of Americans are active Twitter users. Who knows how many of them have multiple accounts? https://www.omnicoreagency.com/twitter-statistics/ Since such a small percent of the US population uses Twitter, I don't understand why any newsroom would like, encourage, or require any of their employees to be a 'presence'. I must say that I get discouraged at 'news' reporting that is little more than screen shots of things people said on Twitter. I guess knowing what Dotard J. Trump blasted out on Twitter is news, since he no longer has meetings with the press, and this is his preferred method of communication. I would just appreciate an article about it, without the graphics. And why would anybody reporting these things have to have their own account?

  28. @Jeff Never had any use for Twitter. Even more so now...

  29. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Instant "reality" curated by each and everyone of us. Pure subjectivity available at a whim. The nihilism of today, only limited by the norms worn by new levels of sensation blasted against our senses until it all seems the same, like a television screen's projection of reality. Twitter.

  30. The "culture wars" at this point seem just to refer to specific networked computer games (in this case, Twitter) and their contestants more than any real "war" or even any real "culture". The vast majority of this country isn't on Twitter, and those who are usually only pay much attention to their own activity there. Journalists shouldn't feel compelled to play along with these designs and media outlets need to go back to looking beyond tweets for reasons to hire (or fire) journalists like published work, education, expertise etc. I'll add that I find articles like this one to have an uncanny almost eerie quality about them—some new genre where writer/reader, publisher/audience are collapsed into one. It's a thing now, when a publication just gets too "internetty".

  31. @Kevin Maybe it's true that the vast majority of this country isn't on Twitter (I don't know, though - is it really?), but I'm pretty sure everyone making big decisions is.

  32. @Sean Twitter has a relatively small user base, dwarfed by other platforms. It is quite literally the “water cooler” for journalism, which is what I like about it. I can interact with a writer whose book I’m reading, which is pretty exciting. But I doubt the big decision makers will be there for long. In addition to the deleterious effects it has on your view of the world and therefore the quality (if not genre as I joked) of writing you’re doing, it does come with quite a lot of liability as the article illustrates. I personally always feel like I’m playing with fire when I tweet anything. In the long run, I don’t see social media in its current incarnation as sustainable for a number of reasons so the problem will likely improve.

  33. @Kevin I got off Twitter when I and others following a particular organization were accused of bigotry. I wasn’t following it because I agreed with the organization, I wanted to keep up with its activities and positions because I was opposed to them. But apparently “following” had become equated with “supporting”. So yes, you are playing with fire.

  34. Beautifully put. Marty Baron needs to offer a real apology to Ms. Sonmez and WaPo's readers and commit to supporting employees facing internet mobs for doing their jobs.

  35. @Hmmm This is an employer - employee issue. I hope they leave me out of it.

  36. @liza Not when an employer's product is a public service.

  37. @Hmmm Beautifully put.

  38. Regardless over whether it was a violation of policy or not, the reporters tweed exhibited extremely poor judgement, and downright cruel behavior. A person who has a case against them dropped over 15 years ago— a beloved sports figure, father and family man had died along with his child. The nation is still in mourning. Why would this be brought up? People are innocent until convicted, and a dead man can’t defend himself.

  39. He admitted wrongdoing in a civil trial. That does not equate to innocence in any court of law.

  40. @Michael Jovanovic Civil court isn't about "right" or "wrong," only financial liability -- hence, the settlement. Regardless of what people (including Ms. Sonmez) think of the outcome, the case was settled in a court of law.

  41. First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colo. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter. I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado. Truly the words of an innocent man. /s

  42. I think sometimes we need diversity. Whether it is the idea or the views.

  43. I’m not a big fan of Twitter. I don’t see how it benefits anyone. I think that those who post frequently on Twitter have overinflated egos. If you feel the need to react to every meme, write your ideas down in a notebook. Then come back in a few days and evaluate the value of your words.

  44. Yes, but the Twits can only write with their thumbs.

  45. @Lucian Janik The problem isn’t Twitter and whether you like it or not...no one cares. The problem is with mobs that hound people for pointing out truth.

  46. @Lucian Janik Absolutely. A cesspool of groupthink, virtue-signaling, react-first-not-thoughtfully, self-aggrandizing binary slosh. Other than that, it's great.

  47. The cynic in me almost thinks these controversies are, if not completely deliberately manufactured, tacitly encouraged as a way to drive clicks and eyeballs towards the dying old media brands. News has fused with entertainment, and drama sells. Twitter is just reality TV version 2.0.

  48. It would have been really nice if everyone involved had taken a pause before placing any statement or link on social media. In this case the WaPo reporter, the WaPo editorial board and management and those who threatened Ms Sonmez. I am not on any social media and really the main reason is because in this busy world anyone and everyone is trying to get some edge out there with little or no consideration that we are human, we can make mistakes and we can redeem ourselves over time. Like they say: It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be NICE!

  49. @TheniD No, it’s not really important to be nice. It’s important to be honest and tell the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear.

  50. @TheniD, It’s not a reporter’s job to be nice or to make you feel good, but to be objective and report the facts. It’s up to you to evaluate that information and make up your own mind about what it reveals.

  51. I was a journalist in New York City from the early 1970s through the early 1980s, including a lengthy stint as a Reuters business reporter. It was a totally different world then, and journalists occupied a position that was much more respected then now. Making sure a story was 100 percent accurate was the most important element in our reporting. Reuters was a wire service, and we competed with Dow Jones, which was part of The Wall Street Journal, to see who had the story the quickest. We’re talking about seconds of time here because that was what stock traders needed to make the most competitive trades. Time is money! It was also a much more primitive time in that we didn’t have cell phones, lap top computers or even beepers. Use of faxes were just beginning and they were often too blurry to read. We did interviews, often face to face. We used telephones to dictate our stories, and we knew the location of every pay phone in the city. When we wrote our stories, we often incorporated information that was previously reported. It was called “background” and our editors never questioned its use. Fortunately,Twitter, Facebook and other social media did not exist, so we did not have to worry about tone, nuance or bias. I’m not taking a walk down memory lane here just for fun. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past when accuracy and fairness determined excellence, and our profession was still admired. It’s too bad we can’t go back to simpler times.

  52. @Banjokatt Business journalists and science journalists are still respected because they don't pepper their stories with opinions. That's why Bloomberg News, Reuters, WSJ, and FT have healthy balance sheets and subscription revenue than general papers.

  53. What we see here is how quickly information is shared online today and how fast that affects social norms. At the very most, Ms. Sonmez's post about Mr. Bryant was impolite timing - the yesteryear social construct of "there's a time and place for bringing up one's faults and its perhaps least tasteful at the time of their death." Now our news cycle is so compact and every changing that many often fight the urge to say any and everything about a topic before it falls out of the spotlight for the next thing. We also have a president that has bucked social standards and "politeness" so that decorum is in question. What is off-limits now? Just because he said it, is it okay? Just because she wrote it, is it okay? The Me Too movement has done so many positive things, but there will be some fallout - when to bring up past wrongs? Is it effective in this situation? There will always be gender bias too in what goes for men in public speaking and women. Bottom line - speak your truth, but realize no one speaks in a vacuum and what's published on the internet is open to anyone's criticism forever - like it or not.

  54. @Natalie, I should not be required to admire someone simply because they have died. But adulatory news reports that refer only to their positive side try to manipulate me to do just that. I deserve to hear the whole story about the person, and then to make up my own mind.

  55. Maybe you should ask his rape victim about decorum. I'm sure she thought it awfully impolite while he was forcing himself inside of her.

  56. @Natalie I wasn’t aware there was a polite time to talk about rape.

  57. "The same editors who want restraint from reporters online during a celebrity death would most likely also be furious if their Capitol Hill reporters were slow in live-tweeting a hearing or impeachment proceeding and fell behind the competition." They can't have it both ways. Well, as employers, they think they can but it's patently unfair and as reported. the "punishment" was recinded 36 hours later. But I"m still struck by management's lack of concern for the reporter's safety in this unrestrained age, where anything at all unleashes hostility, threats, and downright persecution. If they want to make their point, they should develop precise guidelines for reporters' tactics both in the heat of battle and out, for covering celebrity deaths or not, for tweeting versus blogging. Reporters can't read management's minds, anymore than they can know what will trigger death threats in our hyperpartisan, hypersensitive age.

  58. @ChristineMcM , I suspect if a man had reported this same story, he wouldn't have been threatened, nor would his employer have suspended him.

  59. @Orion Clemens I suspect the opposite. If the reporter had been a man, the suspension would have held, and there would have been, if anything, more vitriolic posts against him.

  60. @Orion Clemens An easy card to play...with the added advantage that no proof is either required or possible.

  61. This incident puts light on the question: are journalists bound by any sort of professional code (or company policy) that limits social media behavior? Can people trusted (and paid) to report the news be allowed to influence/compromise that responsibility on twitter? If they do can they complain about the reaction? Many public employee professions (for obvious reason) do, but where is the professional press/media on this?

  62. @keith Yes, journalists are bound to a code of ethics: https://www.spj.org/pdf/spj-code-of-ethics.pdf And here is The Post's in-house code: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/ask-the-post/wp/2016/01/01/policies-and-standards/ Marty Baron needs to sit down, read, and follow these codes. The fact that The New York Times published a piece about this matter shows that the professional media certainly are responding, although not Mr. Baron, himself. The Poynter Institute, a well regarded journalism think tank of sorts has responded.

  63. Regardless of the methods and use of technology, the majority of us reading WAPO just want truthful reporting and stories. I can't imagine how much more damage Trump and his sycofants would have created without the NY Times and Washington Post's excellent articles and research over the past three years. Culture Wars, Technology Wars, whatever you call them, it's all about getting to the truth and reporting it. As for Twitter. I have never and will never use it as a means of commnication. For all practical purposes Trump has drowned it in a swamp of lies. As for technology in general over the past 80 years or so with the advent of TV, I can say my life is not any better with the use of computers, TVs, or the internet. In my 80's, I loved the simplicity of listening to the radio and listening to the news and Tales of the Lone Ranger, reading books, and playing outside for much of my entertainment. Flying Commercially then was delightful as compared to commercial flights today. Freeways are clogged with handsome cars traveling to work at 30 miles an hour, and Smart phones have created a generation of robots. The basic reality is not all advances in technology bring health, wisdom and happiness to our society.

  64. @David Michael Your position is understandable given both your age and nostalgia for a past that lives in your memory but was never a reality...except maybe for you.

  65. @David Michael I agree re: your comments on reporting by the NYT and WAPO. So grateful for them both even w/ their faults and warts (sorry, it's true... no one is perfect).

  66. Mr. Warzel makes several good points and raises a host of interesting questions. But I believe the Felicia Sonmez story is quite simple: The executives at the Washington Post made a profoundly serious mistake. The deadly helicopter crash was tragic and people do not need to be defined solely by the worst thing they ever did (or were accused of). Ms. Sonmez did post anything that was not true. Did the Post order their employees not to discuss the entirety of Mr. Bryant's public life? Do they have standard and consistent rules against mentioning misdeeds, crimes, or credible accusations against the recently deceased? Not to mention the names of people making threats? I think not. "Democracy dies in darkness" is a good motto. But darkness can come from the executive suite as well as from a government office. The free press is too important to our democracy to allow social media mobs to intimidate reporters and columnists or their bosses. The Washington Post should not have suspended Ms. Sonmez. They need to live up to their motto.

  67. @LT This assumes that the Post wasn't going to cover this angle...of *course* they were going to cover it...it was the timing and the bluntness....not the issue itself.

  68. @LT as cute as the motto "Democracy Dies In Darkness" might be, it actually dies in the phantasmagoric mix of fact, opinion, and a be first even if not right, drive to brand, get eyeballs, and slum dwelling would be social media influencers. We are apparently headed towards a world in which newspapers, both printed and online, are no longer needed because we can all just monitor our twitter feeds and decide which opinions we want to bless as fact.

  69. @Southern Hope When exactly is a good time to cover allegations of sexual assault by a celebrity who also has done some good? Bill Cosby arguably did a lot of good with his show, children's books and charity work. Yet is that what defines him now, or when he will pass away? Of course not. The fact is that media have their love affairs with certain celebrities, and they bend over backwards to minimize them. John Lennon was credibly accused of domestic violence, with police reports to boot. So was Bill Murray. Robert de Niro's history with women isn't all that great once you read his old Playboy interviews, either. Just about every big sports star and music star have had allegations of partner abuse and/or sexual assault. Yet people like Chris Brown, and many others still have healthy careers, with nary a mention of #MeToo or problematic behavior/opinion of women in their media interactions. Why? What makes people like Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen convenient punching bags? It's certainly not the credibility of the allegations.

  70. If our media systems are self reinforcing or not was a question, this piece confirms an answer. Trumps affairs will go on forever because eyeballs won’t blink and they will help fill the coffers of those that own or manage both large and small media enterprises.

  71. @RjW Nailed it. This piece included, no fault of Warzel's. Next up: this interesting fresh morph of usage for "culture war" -- fighting on some odd new fronts, it appears...

  72. Whatever our thoughts on the matter, it seems all the more apparent that Twitter is inching closer and closer to being rightfully classified as a public threat rather than a public good. Much of what the platform is praised for is often counter to something sinister that Twitter originally hath wrought.

  73. @Matt When was it ever a public good? Mass generation of ephemeral tripe.

  74. Social media is designed to destroy the barriers between opinion and news, between information and influence. It is designed to run on the fuel of gossip and outrage. It is communication as pure commodity; no standards are relevant but numerical ones--forwards, clicks, dollars. It will keep getting worse until we ask ourselves what kind of society we want and demand the technology & media we need.

  75. "The tweets displayed poor judgment" That is the crux of what you are trying to support. Tweets.

  76. A reporter for the Post -- or the Times, or NBC, or Vice -- is supposed be doing the hard work of reporting, not sitting at her desk tweeting every time there's an event that breaks into the news cycle. The justification for reporters on Twitter is that it attracts eyeballs to the "brand." But why should the people reading reporters' constant twitter stream bother? We have the primary example of how much Twitter substitutes for real work, real thinking in the White House. Reporters, report. We don't need your comments on every little thing that happens.

  77. @Maggie Respect is still part of the profession. Why should an industry that shows no respect, toward anyone but themselves, receive any?

  78. @Maggie For every lesson, there's a moment when perspective/sensitivity should prevail. You're welcome.

  79. "... not sitting at her desk tweeting every time there's an event that breaks into the news cycle." Evidently you haven't noticed what journalists usually tweet -- links to their own articles. Or they provide some additional background for their own articles. It's impossible to generalize, so try scrolling to the end of a few Times articles and following the Twitter link for the reporter. You can do that from a web browser -- no app is needed.

  80. “Newsrooms and even the platforms have struggled with finding a new standard in the Trump era of disinformation.” Sadly, newsrooms took the exact wrong tack. The right answer to accusations of false news would have been cold, disinterested reporting of facts. Instead they went with opinion, sensationalism, partisanship, and an aura of moral superiority that opens them wide open to claims of making up the news.

  81. @Jon F Yes, exactly.

  82. @Jon F There has never been the "cold, disinterested reporting of facts" in reporting the news. Even Walter Cronkite and Jack Anderson each had their own point of view. If you just serve up facts, they are no longer news, they are truisms.

  83. @Jon F Cold, disinterested, reporting of facts doesn't get you anything either, including respect. If it did, Fox News would be only doing that. I would argue there is no such thing as a universal truth for the most part and in every day matters, these are rare. So everything is relative. And in terms of relativity, there is an ethical standard we should agree to and live by. I thought the US had figured it out but it looks like tribal behaviour has reared its head again.

  84. Media outlets committed malpractice by NOT mentioning the issue. That's part of Bryant's legacy ... and to avoid discussion of it perpetuates the suffering that 2 woman had hoped would be over thanks to the #MeToo movement. But obviously we still have a LONG way to go in that regard.

  85. @notrace I'm not into sports at all. When I started hearing the news, I wasn't sure who the subject of the stories was. I thought Kobe Bryant was the basketball player who had admitted to taking advantage of a troubled young woman. With no mention of his admission in the news stories about the helicopter crash, I concluded I was wrong about who Mr. Bryant was. Not mentioning the issue confused me and probably a lot of other people who aren't rabid basketball fans. (No big deal if only a few minutes or column inches of news had been dedicated to the story.)

  86. A loving father with a family who had spent untold years giving pleasure to millions as a top professional athlete tragically dies with his young child need have his lowest moment brought up within 24 hours of his accidental incineration in some backwoods canyon?

  87. @notrace Gee, I teach 7th grade and whenever I teach FDR, I don't feel compelled to mention Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, nor do I feel compelled to mention both JFK Dr. King's serial infidelities. Perhaps I will reconsider my teaching methods in light of your cogent comments. I certainly do not want to be accused of malpractice.

  88. Media organizations exist to maximize advertising revenue, hence their use of social media to attract “eyeballs” to their content, no matter the consequence. I do not envy their management or staff, trapped playing a game they hate, with no other recourse.

  89. @JDice If they hate the game, why not stop playing it? No excuse.

  90. Why do we care about celebrity deaths anyhow? The outpouring of grief and shrine construction over a complete stranger based on an imaginary and subjective perspective of this person should be considered aberrant behavior. This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t be recognized for the good they have contributed to the works. But the idolization and celebrity worship culture is unhealthy and only leads to more danger and divisiveness in an increasingly interconnected digital conversation.

  91. @Melba Toast Thank you for your comment, one of the best I heard about the out-of-control idolization of celebrities. It started with Princess Diana's death and now is completely out of control. I do not think that relatives of those that perished in this tragic accident appreciate the limelight.

  92. @Sarah Why start there. Why not go back to Archduke Franz Ferdinand or Franklin Roosevelt, or JFK...all as much celebrities as anything else. We all impute worthiness of grief to individual feelings we have about their relative value. They are all more celebrity than reality.

  93. Melba. I am concerned. I am desperate to find out who the masked singer is. Celebrity takes us out of reality. Trump is a reality that i need relief from.

  94. I always considered Twitter as a kind of marginalia--where people would voice opinions in the margins of daily life. Twitter isn't the text (or the news)--it's just the commentary that reacts to the news. Everyone's got an opinion, and unfotuntely Twitter give them a platform for sharing it

  95. @Muddlerminnow Exactly. Opinions are like rear ends; everyone has them, and they're usually full of crap.

  96. @Muddlerminnow Yes, everyone's got an opinion. Obviously even you! You have this as your platform. Bet you think your comments are more informed than than those on Twitter.

  97. Ms. Sonmez's suspension was ridiculous and disgraceful. Celebrity in this country has gotten completely out of hand. I live just outside Los Angeles, and work in L.A. On Monday as I drove to work, the only - repeat only - story on the radio news station was Kobe Bryant's death. Never mind the coronavirus outbreak that just might turn into a global pandemic; never mind that impeachment thing, it was Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, and nothing else. My first class (I teach seventh-grade) wanted to grieve for Kobe, and my 12/13-year-olds seemed shocked when I told them Kobe's death was sad, but I was even more sad that three young women the same age as them were never going to get to grow up and have a life. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Los Angeles plans a parade. Our society needs some perspective.

  98. @Vesuviano You're exactly right. I don't know what you teach, but you are instrumental in preparing the children to become the future of this country. Kobe Bryant was a phenomenal athlete. He entertained us, and made millions of dollars doing it. That is what we value. Teachers have to constantly fight to make a genuine living wage, and they dedicate their lives to children who will be the leaders, workers and parents of the future. Kobe Bryant played a game. We do need perspective, but as long as we value (in every way) athleticism and celebrity, over genuine servants, we will continue to be bombarded by news of this kind. I am not hopeful.

  99. @For the Love of Trees, My oldest son submitted his dissertation as the final step in completing a Ph.D. in English at UCLA in September. He has walked away from academia and now works as the 19th-century Americanist for a rare book dealer. He was an excellent teacher - or so many of his students said in their critiques of his classes at the end of each semester. And Ross Douthat wrote a depressing op-ed in this very paper, of all people, I know he writes about Education but did not link it to religion, which pleased me, about the tragedy of university English departments with a link to a series of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education - truly, truly depressing. There is lots that he can do with the degree and he has to sort that out. And you are so right about what it is we value in Amerika today and it makes me ill.

  100. @Vesuviano I notice you live in Cali. I bet if you hade posted your real name, the tolerant cancel culture there might have visited you to, in the words of Mao, think politically correct.

  101. I think this affair shows how constrained journalists are to speak their minds. They worry a lot about reputation. Their employers do too. The deference to authority that is taught in journalism schools needs to change. There were no real lessons in investigative journalism. There was even corruption in our investigative journalism class, which came out later. Not all journalists are like this. But I'd bet at least once or twice in a journalist's career, their publication chooses not to publish something they wrote because it's too risqué or would offend an important audience.

  102. This is what happens in journalism when business types take over. These business types might be former journalists, but they have forgotten what it means to be a journalist. Reminds me of principals spouting the central office propaganda to teachers. Yes, principals were once teachers and so were most superintendents, but they have long forgotten what it is like in a classroom and most would rather shoot themselves than return to a classroom.

  103. @Unclebugs ...or perhaps it is what happens when common sense and good taste take over. I would no more consider twitter, let alone a retweet, as news than I would consider those rants of the deranged idiot who stands on my corner shouting at the heavens each morning. The real story is that this is what happens when twitter-mania infects a real news organization.

  104. A business, newspaper or other, should not accept threats to their employees on Twitter, no matter whether the employee says something that is pro or anti-business. Case closed.

  105. While there was nothing inherently wrong with Somnez's tweet, let's just cut to it: that tweet was sent mere hours after the accident when emotions were running at their highest. She had to know that it would be provocative. It's like throwing a rock at a hornet's nest. This isn't the first time we've seen Twitter destroy someone's reputation. The Post was definitely wrong to fire her and they only did it to try to placate the Twitter mob. But she should have exercised better judgment, for her own sake, if nothing else.

  106. @PubliusMaximus Emotions running high has been one of the classic way to excuse violence against women. Mentioning something in the public record, about a public figure, even at a time of death does not justify death threats, and no one should feel like they should expect them. In fact, any newspaper should mention those things in one's obituary, and most did in their official ones. Leaving their sports and entertainment "reporters" to gloss over anything that might be less than perfect about Mr Bryant. The post didn't fire, they suspended, which they then later came out and said they were wrong to do. That her judgement was fine according to the Washington Post policies on social media use.

  107. @Edward Brennan I did not excuse Kobe's behavior, but you also need to acknowledge that he was not convicted by a court of law. I'm sorry, but that's just a fact. And I certainly am not justifying death threats to the reporter, but you can't tell me with a straight face that she was completely unaware of the reaction she MIGHT get. No one had talked about that incident since it was settled out of court. Why now?

  108. @PubliusMaximus She wasn’t fired. She got put on administrative leave for a few days and has now returned to her job. But she got death threats.

  109. I'm no Kobe fan, but what bothered me about Sonmez's actions was that she was trying to make the story about her and hide behind a cloak of journalism. She retweeted the Daily Beast story without providing any context. She alluded to her own experience as a sexual assault survivor as the reason for the tweets. Anyone who followed his career was already aware of the 2003 case, so it wasn't like she was breaking news. (I wouldn't have suspended her, but a harsh reprimand was definitely warranted.) Whatever happened that night is a part of Kobe's life story, but it becomes a problem when people try to relitigate a matter that's already been settled in a court of law (regardless of whether or not you like the outcome). Whenever people brought this up, was it out of concern for the alleged victim ... or was it an opportunity to grandstand at the expense of her pain and suffering? (I see you, Abigail Disney!) If it's the former, context, nuance, and tact MUST be applied (and social media probably isn't the best platform, as Sonmez learned the hard way). If it's the latter, chances are you're not doing the woman any favors. Either way, Kobe could only receive forgiveness from two sources: the accuser and God. It wasn't Sonmez's place (nor anyone else's) to play judge, jury, and executioner -- that's what led to the suspension in the first place). The bottom line remains he and eight other people died on Sunday; the focus should be on learning more about the cause of the accident.

  110. @Latrice Davis "Either way, Kobe could only receive forgiveness from two sources: the accuser and God." You are right, but I would add his wife to that list.

  111. @Jennifer I concur. Given that she didn't file for divorce (and went on to give birth to three more daughters -- including the one who died with him on the helicopter), I think it's safe to say that she forgave him.

  112. @Latrice Davis Wow. Speaking from on high are we? How arrogant this is. Sonmez, as a sexual assault survivor, was trying to make sure her followers who are also sexual assault survivors were not being made to feel invisible ONCE AGAIN, just like all the other times men are lionized while their crimes against women are treated as little dirty secrets that should be swept under the rug. Bryant left a 19-year-old woman with bruises on her neck and blood on her clothes. He eventually admitted his crime. There was never a conviction because the woman was too afraid to testify in court. SHE will live and die with the effects of this. Why should Bryant be covered in glory with no mention of this "dirty little secret?"

  113. When someone dies suddenly and families and friends are devastated, maybe people can be left to grieve the great parts rather than be reminded of the controversial parts. Or must we always proceed to all possible points of view with all possible speed?

  114. @John leslie Condemning rape is not a "possible point of view." It's rightfully addressing a crime that doesn't somehow magically lessen over time, no matter how hard the perpetrator and his fans might insist it disappear. The implicit call to "let it go" in the case of the flap surrounding Bryant's passing is one with which women, historically, are quite familiar. It does all rape victims, surviving and not, a huge disservice and just serves to shut up and shut down women further.

  115. Mourning includes an appreciation of the person. The whole person. And not yheir deification. At my father’s memorial I invited all comments, positive and negative. It relieved a great burden on people and enabled them to reflect on my father’s and their own humanity, as well as on the fleeting and precious nature of life. Nothing would be a greater tribute than to hear someone say about me, “I loved that SOB.”

  116. Ms. Sonmez's problem is the current problem of journalism: unrelenting self-promotion of themselves and their causes with little concern for being a graceful human being. I found Ms. Sonmez's tweet to be tactless. There was nothing of value she added, nothing that could not have waited a week or two. No new information. Instead, it was bad mouthing the dead while self-promoting, an "outrage" tweet. It shouldn't be a revelation to a reporter to find out that her "outrage" tweet generated outrage. If that's a surprise, you aren't much of a journalist. Now we move on to "demands". She demands that the WaPo editors explain their behavior to her. Laughable. This is the type of "journalistic" behavior most people find outlandish. Why, not just "right wing Trump supporters", but moderate independents find media to be untrustworthy. As Journalists, stop hiding behind "freedom of expression" and start exercising some basic common decency as the rest of us do at work and in life.

  117. @They Agreed. Very poor taste and in line with this age. Anyone with a thought thinks everyone needs to hear it. His complicated legacy was part of most obits. As someone who has survived unwanted advances I remember him less for his earlier failing and more for what he attempted and succeeded in doing since 2008. He did more in one lifetime than a hundred people do in their one lifetime. His death has made more people say "I love you" or honor their every moment because you never know. We're doing this at a time when Americans need to better hear one another. Good on him for teaching us to have more compassion. They say when it's time to go, it's our time to go. Maybe his soul had done all it intended to do. Who can make sense of it all on this side? I can't. I'll say this...something in me has changed since this past weekend. Thank you, Kobe. Ms. Sonmez, thank you, too, but it could have waited.

  118. @They It seems she knew what she was doing, what the reaction would be, got the attention she wanted, and this article keeps in going. Trumpist style of self promotion works!

  119. @They "but moderate independents find media to be untrustworthy." Yes, because for 40 years they've been told by Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh that the network to be trusted is the one that pushes the most half truths, conspiracy theories and outright lies: Fox. On top of all that perfidious flatulence, they've been telling us to hate our government; incessantly, ad nauseam. In a nation with millions of guns, did they really think there would be no consequences for their constant litany of racial hatred while stoking the anger of those who are fearful of changing demographics?

  120. My uncle traumatized me every Thanksgiving from age 5 by describing in detail the turkey's lifecycle from egg to platter. I had no knowledge of farms and often thought of animals as meals. Uncle had lost his index finger in an assembly line accident which made the narration all the more surreal. There were at least 12 around the table, not including satellite high chairs and everyone laughed til gravy came out of their noses. Except me. This went on for some years and somehow I generalized the trauma to any A to B narration including teachers of all kind. Natural history was the worst as humans weren't alive that far back so how did they know for sure? To this day I tell people, "Please don't prove it.Give me some references or links and I'll figure it out for myself." I have won awards for "thinking differently" and I want to say, "You don't know the half of it, not because I I won't tell you but because you'd have no good reason to find out." It's okay. Just be aware of how much you probably don't know about the story, how many versions it might have, and especially these days when everyone is a writer, is important, is gifted, is special (all true but who's got the time?), the most important questions you can ask are: 1) what do I already know; 2) how many possible versions can I think of; 3) what does this one add; 4) who's telling this version; and 5) why is she telling it. As Terry Southern said, See you in the funny papers.

  121. Reflecting on justice outside the legal system, perhaps the trial of life after shaming, the generation of guilt, and other things, and subsequently writing about it, even if just for oneself in a private diary – this can make sense when done by someone suffering or distraught due to strange reactions – we may need to disconnect ourselves from that which we penned or have shared.

  122. @M. C. Major We sometimes do not know what experiences another has undergone – whether in the legal system or outside it.

  123. @M. C. Major We sometimes do not know what experiences another has undergone – whether in the legal system or outside it. I believe Divine Retribution is no joke! We get rewarded when we do good and we are suitably punished for any wrongs, as required to be!

  124. This is an excellent piece on the incident and the implications it has for journalism. I was glad to see the support that Ms. Somnez received from her colleagues, from Eric Wemple's Media Criticism blog, and from the Washington Post's Union. However, I am disappointed that the Post's senior management had they offered a more full throated apology for both the suspension and for their lack of support when Ms. Somnez's safety had been threatened and her home address circulate online.

  125. Seems to me that sharing a tweet that merely refers to something already in the public record is, as the Fox folks might say, a "nothingburger." However, there is a backstory here that is difficult to assess. The reporter describes her sexual victimization, which suggests a particular sensitivity to the subject of her tweet. However, as many commentators don't state (as our columnist here doesn't), her history of victimization is disputed. That may be the larger story, and one that in effected served as a back story to the current scandal. But, as usual, it's a world of pain in which everyone gets hurt and there's no absolution anywhere.

  126. @RR3 So, she's credible as a professional national reporter, but NOT credible as a human being in recounting details about her own life??

  127. The only thing that Twitter needs, and Facebook too for that matter, is some good competition. (well, maybe not the only thing).

  128. Give me a break. Enough with the near constant news about Kobe Bryant’s death. It is always heartbreaking when someone dies that is well-known. But do you know is what is even more heartbreaking? To see the world mourn with fervor someone they’ve never met. There seems to be no awareness around this fact. At all. Where’s the never-ending news cycle content when a cop is shot in the line of duty, or a firefighter dies in a structural fire....a service member at war or a neighbor who volunteered 30 years in his or her community? It’s beyond tragic that KB’s helicopter went down. I have deep compassion for the pain all connected families are going through right now. Bryant did a lot for his community and that is absolutely commendable. But this shouldn’t be a near number one news story. Ever. We’ve lost our way. This is what’s wrong with us.

  129. @Liz Hastings So people expressing grief over a horrible tragedy is "more heartbreaking" than the death of a husband and father, alone with his young daughter, as well as the other people who died in the plane crash? Wow.

  130. @Liz Hastings Of course people are going to "mourn" more over, say, John Lennon being shot in the street than some anonymous insurance claims adjuster. But I'm not sure it's evidence that we've lost our way. (There is far better evidence available).

  131. Lis. I get it. You are not a math person. Or humanitarian. A helicopter went down with 9 people in it that died. Older and younger people. You have an agenda, my dear.

  132. Americans are well aware that public figures of the stature of Mr. Bryant are often charged with offenses which are not true for the shake down of money. The implication, if you can call it that, was Ms. Sonmez' feeling he was guilty, something that she cannot possibly know.

  133. @CARL E It's an easy fix for "people of Stature": Don't be behind closed doors when meeting someone alone. But then, one doesn't need to have this "stature" to know that. Oh, and adding to that sexual misconduct, highly volatile. A married person having sexual relations outside of the marital bond, is already misconduct, isn't it? But then, here's something: Don't all people have "stature"?

  134. @CARL E Not just guilty but convicted by an unseen jury and sentenced to a life sentence of being evil with no hope of redemption. This was an attack on Kobe's remaining daughters who not only had their father die, but a sister too. The only future war I see on Twitter is hate. Hate for 3 young girls who's father died hours earlier. We owe the dead nothing, we owe the living family compassion and decency. Hopefully this thoughtless and mean act can start to change journalism.

  135. A well written,clear overview, of an important complex issue. During a conflicted era. In which facts, fictions and fantasies, all to easily, become “goulashed.” By agendaed influential people and systems. Aided by toxic, ever-present, complacency and complicity. Also by all-too-many ordinary folk. All over. An additional value, norm, and ethic could be included: Personal Accountability. For one’s harmful words. One’s SILENCE. When voiced outrage is needed. Appropriate. One’s actions. One’s inaction(s). When opportunities exist to make a needed difference. In order to achieve, and sustain, civil interchanges. Mutual respect. Empowered compassion. Mutual help, if and when needed. Equitable types, levels and qualities of wellbeing. Within a framework of menschlichkeit. To overcome our enabled WE-THEY violating culture.

  136. Charles Warzel is obviously a very intelligent journo, and his piece is brilliant. But at the same time, he is evading the issue that arises when 'prominent journalists' make comments on Twitter or their articles, and when those comments are seen as 'politics'. Obviously the case he has cited, does not fall into that category where the journo might be seen as playing politics. But that does not mean Charles can get away with general observations on the basis of this case, when he well knows that the pressures felt by a publisher to first put a distance between a journo whose comments has unleashed protest on some scale, are often based on the larger concern that the journo might have indulged in social media activity that got hostile reactions from social media, and that the first priority is to protect the rest of the 'team' from any possible fallout. Also I find the content and context disappointing because the 'headlines' led me to expect a more serious discourse of what happens when the trolls come for the media / newsrooms ? Neither the cited case and the arguments reach the level of that discourse. Maybe Charles will take time to write another piece more pertinent to that premise.

  137. What's up with all of this 'culture wars' and 'people of color' and 'populism' euphemistic nonsense? The Civil War was a war. And so was the American Revolution. Along with all of the violence directed at multiple Indigenous nations. The Civil Rights movement was a cultural political socioeconomic struggle. Women's suffrage, equal rights and # MeToo were /are struggles. As is the LGBTQ movement. Every human being is a 'person of color' due to the evolutionary fit DNA pigmented response need to produce Vitamin D and protect genes from damaging mutations. I have never seen a really 'black' nor 'white' person. I have seen dark and light people. While 'populism' is a benign convenient distraction from the ethnocentric nationalism and sectarianism that has bathed so much of human history in blood, sweat and tears.

  138. @Blackmamba You may not see a war, but... About 40% of this country and thir principal media exponents, Murdoch, et al, consider themselves to be onward Christian soldiers. They may do it to sell advertising, but it is effective. On the flip side, consider the effect of "Strange Fruit" on listeners. How about "Blowin; in the Wind"? "We Shall Overcome"? But for A. Lincoln, there would have not been the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and without them....

  139. There is much truth in this column. I might add this - just as Trump didn't create this culture war we are in but rather leveraged it, so is it that our media outlets didn't create this culture war either. It is real and it isn't going away anytime soon.

  140. What about basic decency? She should have waited and given the family time to grieve.

  141. @BarrowK I agree. The case was settled, without assigning guilt, years ago. What good could come from bringing up the issue when so many are grieving, especially now when Bryant is unable to defend himself. It seems like a pretty cheap shot to me. This does not excuse the trolls who published threats and the reporter's personal information.

  142. I agree that the reporter here should have exercised some common decency and restraint while friends, family, and the public were still dealing with the loss of someone they cared about. And if the reporter here posted her tweet on an account associated with her employer, then I feel the employer had a right to make plain that it was concerned about decency (although it is not clear that was the Post's purpose) This is not to suggest that free speech should be curtailed even in the name of courtesy. But there was ample time before the crash to discuss whether Mr. Bryant's past was "fraught," and there will be ample time in the future.

  143. @BarrowK Nope. The family will grieve for a long time, so neither the reporter nor you and I know how long that is. And speaking of basic decency, forcing sex on people is pretty indecent. Kobe's fans are entitled to their grief, but the public is entitled to facts. I'm not a basketball fan, and when Mr Bryant's death was reported my first thoughts were how terrible and then, isn't he the guy who raped some girl in Denver and then paid her off?The facts are out there.

  144. Looking from the outside of the world of journalism, I think that is precisely the internet who gave personal voice to journalists (and everybody else). The first amendment has been always about giving liberty of expression to the owners of the means of mass communication. Not to the individual who did not have the means to communicate. Sure, you could still go to a park, like in London and speak your ideas to other people walking around you. But that is limited. The owners of these means are the ones who determine what is published or broadcasted. The internet has allowed us to know more about the persons we read in the media. I am sure management is very aware. We live in a country with liberty of expression. Trump not news outlet's management is the real threat to the second amendment. Beware of alternative truths.

  145. I'm a computer guy, not some aging Luddite. For the life of me I don't understand how people find the time to mess around with Twitter, text messages, Facebook, Instagram, and all the rest. I get a few minutes in the morning to read this newspaper and that's about it. I have work to do. Catch you later..

  146. @Johnny Your job probably doesn't incorporate at implicit or explicit requirement to participate in social media. As this article points out, many journalists are expected to have a significant social media presence and their employers often benefit from their journalists' engagement on Twitter etc.

  147. @Johnny, I'll tell you how. I'm in construction where the younger workers are chained to their cell phones. In a nutshell, they do a lot less work.

  148. @Johnny Have you walked around any large workplace or organization in the last 10 years or so ? You ask how folks find the time ? I can think of one very large facility in particular, where the better part of the work force - not just the young, but ever age group (even the "aging" Luddites) spend the better part of the day tapping away on their drug of choice. And NO one tells them to put it down on company time. No one. Management must be afraid of violating their "rights" by requiring them to do the job. It is disgusting.

  149. And the chilling effect on free speech is now minus zero thank to the internet.

  150. @sjs Yes, that which was supposed to free humankind instead seems to have had the reverse effect. It's quite sad - humans always seem to do it to themselves.

  151. I'd like the article to have said what "inbox" was "bombarded"? Her Twitter account, Wash Post, all, other. etc. Did I miss that info? Computing machines are rather deliberative and I want to protect myself from bombardment. I seem to think that precise info on how computer media users actually weaponize or troll or bombard would be helpful-an appreciative Wash Post reader.

  152. "Did I miss that info?" Yes. Follow the first link in the OpEd to a Wash. Post piece by the Post's media critic. "... I want to protect myself from bombardment." Don't publish your email address. Don't have a Twitter account. Etc. However, newspaper reporters can't do that -- they sometimes get leads or story ideas by those means. For example, scroll to the end of the OpEd to see Warzel's email address and Twitter handle. You will see something similar at the end of many Times articles.

  153. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc comments and followers are part of job interviews in many "visible" positions or where they hype the industry or employer.

  154. It's all going to get shut down or, at least, heavily controlled or weaponized by the powerful and the public is going to be pleading for it to happen. I've spent much of my life arguing against the gatekeepers and controllers and defending unbridled freedom and human potential only to turn around and see the people I've been defending act in ways that confirm the opinions of the gatekeepers and controllers. I'm on your side. Please stop confirming their opinions.

  155. You don't think tweeting about a 16yo case where Kobe was not convicted of anything showed poor judgement? He is dead, so the story only has the potential to hurt his widow and surviving children. Seems like the definition of poor judgment, or just mindless hatefulness. If I was Sonmez's employer I would wonder why she felt the need to put this out there and whether she is a net liability to the paper going forward. It isn't a culture war, it is a question of humanity and dignity.

  156. @Todd. I fully expect the accusations around Bret Cavanaugh to come up once he passes this earthly realm. It would seem intemperate to interrupt his funeral or picket along the funeral route a la Westboro Baptist Church, but reporting on the past controversy would seem legitimate. Nuisance lawsuit, you say. Perhaps, but recent reporting, however ill-timed, reminds us that the medical staff who examined the young woman at the time said there were innumerable scratches on her privates consistent with a violent non-consensual encounter. In any case the truth seems murky enough that this incident was bound to be included in the public discourse just as Bret "I like beer" Cavanaugh will have an asterisk by his name. I don't expect the family to publish it in the funeral bulletin, but any responsible news outlet will. Mr. Bryant seems an examplar of hard work, determination, and was, or became, a family man extraordinaire. (Bryant did apologize....to his wife for adulatory.) Fans are doing him no service sending death threats or obscenities to a reporter. The latter seems in poor taste, the former, downright illegal. I don't follow Twitter, a longtime friend has told me how mob-like the reactions can be. This NYT comment section is the extent of my postings on anything resembling social media. I like it here for the general civility and many thoughtful posts, including yours. Perhaps news outlets are in a no-win situation regarding Twitter. I dunno.

  157. This "cancel culture" that the self-anointed arbiters of right and wrong have made the new norm will eventually come back to attack them if they say/think/post something that is at the moment unacceptable. The objective of journalism is to report the facts (who, what, where, when, why, how) and opinion should be labeled as such. Unfortunately people seem to only want to attack and destroy those who have a differing opinion rather than rationally and civilly.

  158. @Paulie.P This is about decency , something that people seem to have forgotten about in real life. Sending a thank you card, walking in front of someone is called excuse me, giving a seat to a senior citizen, that is not cancel culture but it is called humanity and decency. There is a time and a place to publish all of the truth, hours after someone passes is not the time

  159. Antisocial media, as I call it, is like a drug for the masses and also a weapon. The best answer is to just not participate in the feeding frenzy. I cancelled all of my social media accounts a few years ago and am far happier without it.

  160. Her higher-ups at the Post were making the trolls go away. If one being criticized by trolls is loudly critiqued, it can result in her being left alone and generate for her a greater sense of security! The Post, it may have been defending her in a way!

  161. If she tweeted her suspension and the accompanying criticism from her higher-up(s), this may have waylaid the pressure she was under in relation to trolling activities. Unhappy followers may have believed she was being punished institutionally and then let go. On a somewhat different but related note, writing can create attachment – which can cause suffering for both writer and reader. Reflecting on justice outside the legal system, perhaps community hearings and the generation of guilt, and subsequently writing about it, even just in a private diary – this can make sense when done by someone

  162. The Post could have said they would review the situation without suspension. Reporter was telling the truth and not making something up. WAPO is wonderful but this was an overreaction and not well done. On the other hand it was a cheesy thing to do including using personal abuse history. Not the effective way to combat sexual violence.

  163. While I deeply sympathize with all the grieving families who lost loved ones on this tragic helicopter accident including the Bryant family, the Kobe tributes have been over the top. He has been talked about as if he were up there with Jesus, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Yes, I get it, he was a spectacular athlete, a really extraordinarily talented basketball player. However: Basketball is a ball game. It is not the cure for cancer or a new breakthrough on world peace. It is a bit sad that people think that someone who excels at playing with a ball is a "hero." Seriously? My idea of a hero is George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman or Sojourner Truth. PS: The Post should be ashamed, utterly ashamed, for the way it treated its reporter who did nothing more than remind people of a few simple facts.

  164. Weirder perhaps was how the WaPo comments were policed. Several posters had innocuous posts removed for no apparent reason, as the pressure against the suspension of their reporter built. Newspapers (I'm old, they are paper to me even though I use only my computer) are precious. People who ranted that they would cancel their subscription were over-reacting, but the Post was seriously under-reacting. They have one eye on survival, but the other just has to be on truth.

  165. Why was “death of retired (like most, terribly overpaid for what they contribute to society) athlete” tale not only front-page news, but tied to another story that belonged on the business or entertainment pages about how it “cast a pall” over an industry awards show. I bet the guy who was great at tossing a ball through a hoop and all those entertainers who appeal to our lowest common denominator in music each made/make as much a day as a good reporter at even the best of our few remaining good newspapers makes in a year. Reporters may well yet save our nation from a horror of a corrupt president. Reporters whose names very rarely become household names. Bread is necessary. Pro athletes and LCD entertainers deserve to be earning the near-starvation wages dedicated community paper reporters are still paid for their 60-hour weeks, paying the dues and honing the skills it takes (plus luck) to make the NYT- and a middle-income job.

  166. The twitter part of this is the problem. The reporter has a right to post whatever she wants on twitter. But there are no guarantees that there won't be repercussions. For me, I found it interesting that common sense wasn't used by Ms. Sonmez or her bosses at the Post. She didn't stop to think of the power of her words and their affect on the other victims of the crash. She also did not calculate that waiting and writing a longer piece about Kobe Bryant's complex life and legacy would have been much stronger than a tweet with a link. Her bosses made a knee jerk reaction which usually goes wrong. All told, regurgitating this story quickly and without much thought ended badly. Too bad, it could have been so much better.

  167. I'm a freak; a real weirdo these days. I grudgingly use a cell phone. I don't use Twitter. I don't watch TV news. I don't listen to radio news. I'm detoxing from Facebook. And inspired in part by The Privacy Project, I'm gradually removing my presence from all social media. I don't live in a yurt in the Siberian tundra. I'm not living off-the-grid deep in a mountain bunker. And I'm not crazy (yet) despite what all the voices around me tell me. What I AM is a retired engineer and scientist who was one of many midwives to the birth of the World Wide Web in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s I championed the adoption of the web to family, friends, and co-workers with the zealousness of a true believer. And then, just as today, people criticized, chastised, or rolled their eyes at me. A close friend recently called me a “virtual hermit”. At social gatherings I'm often frowned at for trying to start an actual conversation when everyone else has their heads bowed genuflecting to Candy Crush or the latest hot app. But as war wagons full of trolls drive us headlong toward the cultural apocalypse, I stubbornly persist in getting ALL of my news from reading reputable, credible, sources; The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and several science and technical journals. Go figure.

  168. @Rick Johnson Its great to be a freak, know that you are not alone. I was reading the NYT paper the other day on the subway and this gentleman told me he didn't think people still read the newspaper. I said maybe not on the F train but I read my paper proudly and I know how to think on my own. I didn't read this lady's piece but from the uproar it shouldn't have been printed, not till people were able to process the death.

  169. Someone dies, and a reporter tweets about a dismissed court case? Right away, rubbing it in the grieving family and fans faces? That is always rude and wrong, whether or not it violated their social media policies. Where is the humanity? Give it a week, then post about the complicated legacy or whatever.

  170. I would really like to think that the journalists whose work I read in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere are well rested and have the time to do the incisive, complete pieces that the Times and its major competitors are known for. I don’t like to think that they are compelled to put in what amounts to compulsory overtime, writing inconsequential little tidbits for Twitter and other online platforms. Regardless of what it may once have been, Twitter is now the equivalent of the squabbles in a high-school cafeteria, only it’s much worse than that. In high school, you know your time there is limited, and once you get out, there’s nothing more they can do to you. Twitter, as we have seen, can get you fired from your job, threatened with death, and made a permanent nonperson. So I wish the owners of the Times and the Post would tell their staffs to forget about Twitter; just go home and get some sleep.

  171. The tweets were personal and that is in conflict as her as a journalist, just my opinion. Had she published the Bryant sex case as a part of a balanced piece I’m thinking she may have been in safe territory. This being said the coverage of the tragedy is way over the top in the news cycle.

  172. "... as a part of a balanced piece ..." Newspaper reporters can always pitch story ideas. In the present case, the Post reporter was crudely editorializing on a current event. Reporters should never editorialize. The problem is with newspaper editors who set mushy boundaries, as Warzel explains: "Inside publications, news and opinion bleed together; opinion writers report while reporters opine via news analysis." "... the coverage of the tragedy is way over the top in the news cycle." The nice thing about newspapers and online media is that you can ignore stuff you don't want to read. The Times's web site makes that easy with the navigation links and the search box.

  173. @B Mc Well maybe it is well over the top because we have writers who want to let us know how they think about everythign which is just insulting. give these families, the space, peace that they need, however since we are all about the clicks and making money that will never happened. since most newspapers are owned by hedge funds they are all looking at the bottom line. Think of Prince Harry and Megan, how many times have we heard on the news about his mother. they exploited her life to sell papers and the same will done to Kobe. All about making money

  174. For two generations the Post has been a national treasure but in this incident it demonstrated a profound sexism that completely undercut the pride it has long taken in having been owned by one of the most remarkable women in American newspaper history. It also exposed the day to day realities of even the most successful professional women, which is that we can expect our behaviour to be judged by our bosses and the general public in ways that are utterly inappropriate and also dangerous to our mental and physical well-being. Nearly half a century after a new wave of feminism swept through American life, the woman with a career (which has long been most women) still faces obstacles very few men have to endure, unless, of course, you lost a child at Sandy Hook and have to go into hiding because of death threats from men who think you made the whole thing up. And who are these trolls and why does society continue to tolerate them? Freedom of speech is a legal right, but freedom from social condemnation from those around you for behaving badly is not.

  175. @kate Not that i think you will understand. There are things men endure that women cannot understand as well it is the human condition. This franchising you do in you comment is just that, creating an environment where we are at each other constantly with our own views of right and wrong. No different than extreme views on politics or religion making one a victim really just makes us all victims doesn't it. This journalist simply stepped outside her job to report fairly and became part of the social media mob, subject aside.

  176. Whether or not Ms. Sonmez should have been suspended, she did display terrible judgment. Rushing to emphasize a single mistake (and one with contested details) in an otherwise exemplary life represents the kind of "cancel culture" that plagues social media today. In the end, Ms. Sonmez simply got what she gave -- after trying to be the arbiter of morality and decide who should be praised and who not, she was subject to the same judgments both on social media and in her organization. Plus, the lack of humanity in trying to denigrate someone who just died in a tragic accident with their child is abhorrent. Mr. Warzel is right; you should be ready when the cancel culture you practice comes for you.

  177. @Incredible Fantastic comment.

  178. The two golden rules of social media: -- All platforms are publishers -- "Public" on any platform = "Public" everywhere -- including the "real" (i.e. non-electronic outside interacting) world I get that people want to believe that how their behavior online is completely different than in real life, and they don't want to be chastised for what they post. But because tweeting and posting are conscious acts seen by the public, that's simply not possible: people *will be* and *are* held accountable for what they post. "Broadcast everything, but exercise restraint" isn't contradictory, but a call for exercising judgment in what's posted. That goes for all users of social media but doubly so for those who earn their living there.

  179. @Victor Wong but you shouldn't get threats to your safety by wanting to have a discussion in real life or online about a complex but factual topic. Threats =/= chastising

  180. Disintermediated mass communication is powerful...for good and evil. Agree to disagree and move on. Threats, intimidation, etc are what's wrecking everything, not the disparity of opinions. There's so much latitude to express your opinions, ignore other opinions, etc without resorting to those things.

  181. Twitter has become what the Moral Majority was in 80’s: judgmental snobs. I could add hypocritical too. All this reporter did was alert folks to more historical background info on Mr. Bryant. That’s it. That’s all it was - facts about his life. This reporter was not wrong in featuring those links. This part of Bryant’s past was pivotal for his marriage, his profession and his future. Had the outcome been different his career or marriage may have ended then. Doubtful Nike would have taken him on again. However, this reporter and those WaPo higher-ups should have known this was going to upset Twitter. Usually one doesn’t want to mention bad things to survivors in the the first days following a tragic death. In today’s metoo climate women today look at this as not a just punishment. No matter that it was settled between just the two parties in 2003. Matters are never settled on Twitter. It’s all about provocation. WaPo should have understood that too. What the WaPo higher-ups should have been concerned about was that the reporter linked another publication. I remember when this occurred and I am sure the Washington Post did some fine reporting on it in 2003 that could have been linked.

  182. @Sheela Todd The issue is how quickly she made her important points, after the family just was given the notification that Kobe and their daughter were dead. Nine other people who had families who loved them were also dead and the police had not even released their names. There were nine people on this flight whose families and communities are suffering. Have we become such animals that we cant take a break and give the families time to process their lost as we would fellow human beings?. It was all about the writer not about the grief of the people who were part of this story. now we have to hear about her death threats? I am sorry that people are carrying on, I live my life not being on social media because I don't want to read or hear the hate that goes on their. I make comments here but no further. I hope the families involved in this horrific tragedy have walled themselves off from the world of social media it will not lighten their grief but only add to there suffering.

  183. @Sheela Todd So this worst time in his life is the first thing you think of when he dies in a tragedy with his 13 year old daughter and 7 others? The charges were dropped. The accusers settled. His family didn't leave him. But you are offended, right?

  184. "All this reporter did was alert folks to more historical background info ..." No. The Post reporter was crudely editorializing on a current event. Reporters should never editorialize. Instead, the Post reporter should have pitched a story idea. Or written an OpEd and submitted it to the Post's opinion editors.

  185. These are the wild west frontier days of internet communication. Life has changed so much and so quickly that, not only can one not count all the ways, the basic inventory of impacts is still being compiled. Hidden dangers lurk around every corner. No wonder everyone is so terrified and jumpy, leaping blindly into committing foolish defensive errors. One thing that surely will happen over time is that the blind and furious pursuit of virality will become tempered. Ordinary mortals tend to be overwhelmed by the heady tonic of instant internet fame. Egos suddenly explode. But, then, in the wake of celebrity comes the inevitable wave of troll nastiness and its undertow of personal threats. Only the most unabashedly desperate for publicity in any form will continue to risk swimming in these shark-infested waters. The instinct for survival is powerful. It will surely begin to kick in.

  186. @woofer My instinct about Twitter never had to "kick in" as I never followed the rest of those lemmings off that cliff.

  187. Twitter is a part of News and like it or not, it's here to stay. I work in a TV newsroom. 33 plus years. I'm an ENG editor, a foot soldier. Reporters at the station are instructed to tweet 5 to 10 times a day, to drive viewers to the station. The newsroom uses Twitter to both post and receive breaking news and videos. It is a tool that's not going away. I don't like it. The anonymity of Twitter and online posting encourages cruel and abusive behavior. (We would see more of it here in the NYT comments if not for the moderator.) And much of Twitter isn't verified till well after it's posted, and quite frankly, everyone has their phone in their hand all the time, distracting from the task at hand. Call me old fashioned, but as my mom told me, if you wouldn't say or do it face to face, you shouldn't text, post or tweet it either.

  188. @D. DeMarco Agree! Anonymity neutralizes shame and guilt feelings indispensable for the Modulation of aggressive ingroup behavior. There are no two such things at the same time as a sustainable society with civil security and an anonymous internet.

  189. @D. DeMarco "Twitter is a part of News and like it or not, it's here to stay." Twitter is rot and its here to stay.

  190. @D. DeMarco you are not old fashion it's just greed driving everything above all.

  191. Twitter and the social media universe are our current contexts for mob rule and violence. In the Westerns of an earlier era, there was a noble sheriff who stood up to the mob, who stood for facts and the rule of law. This was a face to face confrontation, there are no faces on the internet, which is what makes this kind of mob one to truly fear and yes regulate.

  192. Practicing publishing without editing is what makes newsrooms unready for trolls. Just because Congress blundered, and wrote a law suspending defamation liability for electronic publishers, is no reason serious publishers have to do it that way. Reading before publishing (editing) has more ways to help than just preventing libel suits. It is the only foundation which ever supported journalistic competition on the basis of content quality. Throwing editing overboard, as tweeting does, is the source of the problem, Mr. Warzel.

  193. @S.P. I agree. Where did the newspaper editors go? Where are the copy editors? I only read the NYT online, so perhaps the published analog physical paper is different and has been edited more thoroughly. However, I read online articles, particularly those written in the first person voice, and I am constantly amazed at typos, especially homophones.

  194. Absolutely true.

  195. As it relates to the state of journalism in a digital age and in the context of social media . . . The focus needs to be kept on journalism. My mother was for some years the night news editor at The Washington Post. She'd paid her dues having started on a small paper as a general assignment reporter and photographer back in the days of the old Speed Graphic cameras. She knew her newspapers, top to bottom. I recall one night that I went downtown to meet her for supper. She allowed she would be late. It seems Harry Truman had died right on deadline. I went upstairs, and watched her tear that day's paper apart and put it back together again. Check with the obit and photo editors. Call the pressroom and tell them to set up for a flysheet to make room for two more pages. It took her 45 minutes. More to the point, at The Post, in an earlier and similar role at The Evening Star, and as Assistant Managing Editor at the Washington Times (How's that for diversity of editorial pages?) she was a journalist. She had no tolerance for opinion on her news pages. The first opinion a reporter wrote in would be edited out. Any protest, there would be a motherly talk. Third offense, a trip to the woodshed. Yes, in the current environment, with the news and social media sharing a platform, there are new considerations, and it can be a fine line. Mom would get that if she were still around. The Guild and management need to take a breath and agree on some guidelines/guardrails.

  196. @Scott I think the point, or implication, of the article is that things have changed. Now, you may say things should go back to the way they were, but that's just not a practical solution. It is impossible. Society has changed, for better or worse. Consequently, news outlets operate within the context of that society and its demands. On a separate note, I take issue with the assertion that news agencies acted as an objective source crusading against opinions leaking into their reporting. Objectivity, as it is understood journalistically, is a delusional ideal. 'Objective' writing will always tend towards the 'official story' from the authorities or government. Look at, for example, the New York Times' role in swaying public opinion against the Arbenz administration in Guatemala. also, when an article gives 'both sides of the story', they often obscure the importance of the reporting itself. Think of how climate change was covered in the news. If you give both perspectives an official platform to present an analysis of a set of facts/data, it creates the illusion that both perspectives should be considered with the same amount of seriousness.

  197. @Scott Your comments are commendable as they highlight the professionalism of your mother as a journalist, and also as you obviously appreciated and understood what it really takes. But I couldn't help reading the comments by Gary Crigger especially since he sounds so exacting and pertinent to the times, and has a 'moot point' to make. However I object to his argument and reasoning because he overlooks that even at the time of your mother's career, the responsibility on the shoulders of the journo was no different, and the consideration of "no tolerance for opinion on [ her ] news pages" is well - taken, and is especially pertinent in today's environment, and in the specific context where you make your comments. Superb for you to remind or coach us on the 'spirit' of journalism. That should not and does not change, irrespective of so - called 'social media' or whatsoever.

  198. @Gray Crigger He is not saying "you may say things should go back to the way they were"; he is clearly stating that his comments are pertinent in the sense that they "relate[s] to the state of journalism in a digital age and in the context of social media".

  199. "(Ms. Sonmez, who has come forward with details of her own sexual assault, told her colleague Erik Wemple that her tweets were, in part, to make survivors like herself who follow her feel seen). (sic)" Sonmez's avocation is victim advocacy. Meritorious in its own right, imo that activity poses a professional challenge and perhaps an ethical conflict to a reporter. Management had a legitimate concern about reportorial credibility and objectivity. It didn't handle that well in its overreaction, but the basic motivation was valid.

  200. @Rocky Iam sorry, her article could of waited 24 hours. Mrs. Bryant doesn't have any rights? she lost her husband and child? We all lived thru the experience, we saw what happened, her children lost their sister and nine other friends were on the flight. She could of shown some respect to the grieving families, but she didn't she had to make it all about her pain. I am sorry she was assaulted as we are for anyone who has endured a horrific experience as this is. She still could of waited the story would of been told in detail, but she had to be the first and sorry I don't believe her motivations.

  201. @Rocky The basic motivation should have been to write her own story about her avocation, not post someone's old story which she posted with no commentary.

  202. "Sonmez's avocation is victim advocacy." Please cite a reliable source saying that.

  203. Twitter is useful in one way lately. It gives the opportunity for Trump to paint himself into a corner with his raging tweets. For instance, he tries to claim executive privilege regarding Bolton, but Trump's own comments invalidates that argument. His impulsive use of the program doesn't help him. All the more strange since his press secretary doesn't do her job.

  204. @Stephen I wish I shared your optimism about Trump’s tweets “painting him into a corner”. Instead, he insults, belittles, bullies, contradicts himself, and flaunts his incompetence and narcissism while his 40 million supporters either blindly cheer him on as he “sticks it to the libs”, or turn a blind eye, grimace, and remind themselves it will all be worth it when Roe v Wade is overturned or when their tax return comes in.

  205. In choosing, at such a sensitive time, to tweet this link to the reporting of another journalist from 4 years ago Ms. Sonmez was not engaging in journalism: she was simply being provocative. She may not have been happy with the reaction she provoked but surely it should not have come as a surprise. Her employers recognized her actions as a provocation and not journalism, and in my opinion they acted appropriately in their roles as managers with responsibility for running an important news organization.

  206. @JFB Women like me--several of us, apparently, and men too--were grateful for Sonmez's reminder of actual history (brutal history that matters a lot, in fact) and a salient detail in a press- and fan- burnished life that was otherwise being airbrushed beyond recognition. Some of us never did forget.

  207. @JFB, Aside from the fact that management ultimately does not agree with you, as they walked back their initial censure, a person’s death does not obliterate facts about their life. There were overwhelming accolades published about Bryant, but they do not reflect the entirety of him, and in fact give the false impression of an unblemished saint. We can only appreciate a human being for who they were by knowing, as far as it is possible to know, the whole person, warts and all. That’s true humanity. All else is just empty iconography.

  208. @rachel b portland Alleged brutal history. Settling nuisance lawsuits prudent legal action--cottage industry targeting rich young athletes-- saving millions through dragged out litigation even when "winning" civil suit.

  209. Social media is just the latest rendition of the rumor mill. With its technology and anonymity, social media just goes faster, farther, and meaner. The most ridiculous thing I read online, about Kobe Bryant’s death, was in an actual NYT article (an article... not a blog... not a Tweet). The writer stated, in the article’s intro/summary, that people would remember where they were, when they heard the news of Bryant’s death, just like older people remember where they were when JFK was assassinated. Really? Seriously? So absurd, I didn’t finish the article. I not only remember exactly where I was when I heard about JFK’s assassination; I also remember the exact first words exchanged between myself and a classmate (I was 12 years old). I don’t have the same clear, specific memories about the assassinations of MLK or RFK. Nor do I remember where I was and what I said when Elvis Presley died, but I vividly remember the news covering the first candlelight vigil. Graceland still has an annual candlelight vigil for Elvis... well-attended since 1977. There are many other influential people for which I have even vaguer memories. I have visited the Lorraine Motel museum and Graceland in Memphis — twice. I’ve visited parts of California’s Central Valley and the Mississippi Delta that were on RFK’s poverty your. John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert F Kennedy, and Elvis Presley are historical and cultural icons. Kobe Bryant is not in their league.

  210. @Donna. I think you are missing the point. His biggest fans WILL remember. Sports is not my passion, but I most definitely remember where and when I learned of musician Chris Cornell’s passing. And I can fully understand vicarious grief that may seem strange to non-fans. The sadness I felt at the loss of Cornell lasted much longer than I would have predicted. Bryant’s fans were in tears. The grief of his immediate family, friends, former teammates and opposing players is so much more. It was harrowing to see the gentle giant Shaq reduced to sobs. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. And ask not which bell peals the loudest.

  211. I'm so sad to read that reporters are now required to post on Twitter. Why can't they be allowed to just do their jobs. No wonder major news organizations miss so much actual news. I have to read academic blogs, international magazines and attend lectures by experts to find out what is really going on. Our "journalists" apparently are spending their time tweeting to their fans like a C list celebrity.

  212. @Anne Be sad that they are required to post on Twitter because we aren't supporting newspapers as we should. Newspapers are closing left and right or being purchased by propaganda machines.

  213. Pogo: We have met the enemy, and he is us. I guess that's okay in this world of endless informative consumption, digits inhaled like air, to be exhaled within seconds for the next gulp of twitter, instagram, facebook, whatever. But it smacks as well beyond "1984," and few seem to grasp that -- you can't see the forest for the trees. Yes, I know, an obsolete cliche. And I'm too old to be "Okay Boomered." Yes, she should have postponed her anguish 96 hours -- family, friends, and acolytes deserve a change for shock and grief -- it showed bad taste and the Post's higher-ups showed worse. That said, I'm so thankful that twenty-twenty vision via articles in Newsweek, Time, and The Week gave me cause, twenty years ago, to avoid Facebook, and later Twitter and all the rest. There is life, learning, peace and contentment, beyond this endless frenzy. Believe it. Walt Kelly's "Pogo" was cut-to-the-chase as a post-war observation platform of the descent of America in the nineteen fifties. I was too young to understand it, but its highbrow grassroots wisdom somehow captivated me even then, amongst Davy Crockett, Yankees baseball, and the X-15. As "Doonesbury" personified the sixties/seventies, a return to "Pogo" might have more of an effect than thoughtful articles like this -- cartoon power is huge and paints an indelible picture. From "All The News That's Fit To Print," to "All The News That Fits In Print." We've created a monster with an endless appetite.

  214. Kobe Bryant apologised to his teenaged accuser and came as close to conceding the assault as he could without convicting himself. He also settled monetarily. Kobe Bryant also did many wonderful things with his money and his fame, supporting young athletes, and was by all accounts a loving parent. Many people regard him, above all, as a basketball star. Many others do not care about sports entertainment, and find sexual assault the more compelling issue raised by his life. For the first group it is offensive to mention the sexual assault case, in light of the tragedy that has befallen him. For the second group, sexual assault is also a tragedy and it is offensive to ignore it. The key difference, as I see it, is that when people who admire his basketball talent become offended because he was accused of rape, they can take comfort in public sympathy. When people who are troubled by the sexual assault charges more than they are impressed by his sports talent speak up, they get pages of terrifying, violent death threats. It is as if talking about sexual assault is more offensive to us than sexual assault itself. Whatever we think about Kobe Bryant, at a minimum, let's look at those death threats, and the professional sanction this reporter received for merely bring up sexual assault, and stop asking women on the stand in court why they didn't report sooner...

  215. @AAC To me it seemed like most people had issue with the timing. Why didn't she tween the article the day before or the day after. The man's body wasn't even cold; his wife lost a husband and a daughter and her first reaction is to malign his name. It's simply tactless and I can see why wapo felt it reflected poorly on them.

  216. @Rob: Many of us don't follow sports. When I first heard of his death, the first thing that popped into my mind was, 'wasn't he that basketball star who assaulted some poor girl about a decade ago.' I had no idea what team he played for, or what his professional achievements were. But I remembered the assault immediately. So it didn't surprise me when someone else mentioned it right away, because for some people, it was literally the first thing that he is associated with. Not everyone cares about sports, but some of us care about women who are sexual assault victims.

  217. @AAC "Kobe Bryant apologised to his teenaged accuser and came as close to conceding the assault as he could without convicting himself. He also settled monetarily. " Doesn't that amount to a confession, morally speaking if not in the eyes of the law?

  218. I think the reporter was wrong to bring up the sexual assault case? What purpose did it serve? It wasn’t new “news,” and it had no bearing on the tragic accident in which nine people died. So what was the point? Creating controversy for the sake of controversy simply adds to the anger and distrust of journalists. The writer seems to be arguing that every young reporter needs to take advantage of any opportunity to be noticed on social media. If that is the purpose of journalism today, then we are in far worse shape than I thought. Common decency alone should have indicated that there was no reason to bring up an old case settled years ago. It’s like asking the widow or relatives at a funeral how they felt about the deceased’s past sexual affairs?

  219. "What purpose did it serve?" The Post reporter explains that in the linked piece by the Post's media critic. The problem is that the Post reporter was not reporting, but editorializing about a current event. Reporters should never editorialize.

  220. @BG There was nothing "wrong" with bringing it up. She's a journalist. It was a big story and a part of his life. That some people found it tasteless or poor timing is life. Half agree, half disagree.

  221. For me, a tweet is still just something a bird says. I see no reason not to keep it that way.

  222. WaPo leadership has more work to do to fix their blundering decision to suspend the reporter. They made the wrong move and they have yet to properly address it. Removing the suspension was correct. A real mea culpa and apology is due.

  223. @Margaret Amen.

  224. Nearly everybody is falling over each other to praise The Departed. Not me. He was a privileged, super wealthy man, who felt so superior to everyone else that he would ride in a million dollar helicopter, spewing pollution, soaring above the peons stuck in traffic, above the poor and the homeless. He was so insulated by his wealth and privilege that he could get away with behavior that would land the rest of us in jail. As the saying goes: "One down ... "

  225. Interesting article . I am sorry that the writer received death threats did she not realize what the reactions were going to be? What was her motivation? to get noticed to get her fifteen minutes in the spotlight? their is a time and place for everything, Nine people died if you have been living in a cave for 20 years you couldn't as a human being not realized the emotional impact that Kobe's passing would have on the entire world. We all have flaws and at the immediate time of our deaths no one wants to expose flaws to hurt the remaining survivors, who are desperately just trying to hold on to get thru another hour, living moment by moment. Anyone which is everyone who has lost someone so precious in their lives are dealing with an emotional grief that is all consuming. Their is a connection between social media, platforms it is called humanity if we are so consumed with being first then you have to understand how the social media relationship works. Processing death is difficult we know we are never ready for it . We know that the joy of our lives is not going to be walking in the door but on an emotional level we still need time to process that tomorrow becomes forever your little girl, your husband your child's friends, parents are not going to answer the phone when you call. Being number one doesn't matter to grieving people don't come back from the dead, stories that could have waited 24 hours should of done so

  226. Important article, the question remains -why are newsroom executives so out of touch in that they don't have the back of their reporters, but cave to the cultural warriors; it does seem to be a movement of the people, powered by social media tools like Twitter. I guess we'll be in trouble when the Millennials rule the industry, or at least it will be interesting to see what becomes of it.

  227. At least one major driver of degradation by social media stems from anonymity. Whether driven by personal conviction or just trying to stir things up, we say things online under fake names that we would never say in public, and especially around people who know us. Talk is cheap, especially when there are no repercussions. The more that our total media feed, including from institutions that are still aiming for some professional ethics, is based on the junk level of social media, the worse it will get--and the more instances of mob overload we will see. ps. I encourage more commenters to use their real names, and the NY Times to set that as policy.

  228. This incident has nothing to do with "the culture war" or trolls. It's a matter of judgement and basic human decency. Ms. Sonmez's tweet came just hours after Kobe had died along with his teenage daughter in a loss that was devastating to hundreds of thousands of people. There would have been plenty of time to re-litigate his complicated legacy in the days and weeks to come. It was tasteless and cruel for Ms. Sonmez to publish her tweet so soon after their deaths instead of pausing to allow the somberness of the moment and the magnitude of the loss to subside a little. She was suspended for dancing on graves. The Washington Post lost the high ground by hiding behind bureaucratic nonsense about "policy" and then cravenly backing down.

  229. @JE "We owe respect to the living. To the dead we owe only the truth"

  230. “President John F. Kennedy, a known womanizer, was shot and killed today in Dallas.” “Reverend Martin Luther King, suspected by the F.B.I. of Communist sympathies and known for marital infidelities, was assassinated today.” “President Abraham Lincoln, thought to have sacrificed numerous troops during the Civil War to establish his agenda, was...” You get the idea. Should a person who dies tragically be looked at fully, warts and all? Absolutely. Is the crime Kobe Bryant was accused (but not convicted) of a heinous one? Clearly. Should a superstar/athlete/entertainer be immunized from scrutiny due to his fame? Not to my way of thinking. Should an alleged crime be the lead? Personally, I don’t think so. Is this really a larger societal issue of trolling? Well, there’s a reason I’m not on Facebook or Twitter-no one should be abused on the InterWebs for tweeting, retweeting or anything else, but I don’t agree that the tweet in question should have been the first comment about the accidental death of a parent and his child.

  231. @LJN Thanks for the excellent comment. I agree that the tragic death of this spectacular athlete was not the best time to bring up the old sex scandal. On the other hand, the fact that great athletes or political leaders are often able to get the charges dropped or overlooked (when less popular defendants are more likely to be severely punished and permanently disgraced) is still a serious problem.

  232. @LJN So, Kobe is heinous despite the fact charges were dropped and the issue was settled by the parties involved. Because our outrage is more than the law or the parties involved?

  233. Your Lincoln example is preposterous. And while Kobe Bryant was undeniably a great basketball player and entertainer, he was not a moral and political leader like King and Lincoln.

  234. A basketball player, that’s all he was. He didn’t bring world peace or make an exciting scientific discovery. He played a game very well. So why the inordinate adulation? I am sad that his daughter was killed, it is heartbreaking to see a parent outlive her daughter. As for Twitter, it will be a constant source of social upheaval because by its very nature it allows people to speak before thinking. My dad used to say, “Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion.”

  235. This problem would go away if reporters simply weren't allowed to post on social media with the identification of their news organizations without editorial approval. After all, their content is not allowed on their OWN company's website without editorial approval. Nor are they normally  allowed to publish on another company's website (e.g. a WaPo reporter on NYT.com) without approval. In an effort to attract eyeballs, and to show they'rehip with the digital age, news organizations actually encourage reporters to tweet about their stories. But this is not journalism, it is self-promotion, or as in Ms. Sonmez's care, self-promotion along with political activism. Promotion should be left to the newspaper's publicity department, and political activism should be under the reporter's own name -- not including which newspaper they work for,.

  236. Being a reporter, Felicia Sonmez felt the need to say something about the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-yr old daughter, Gianna along with seven others in a helicopter crash. What she chose to say, or Tweet, was a story from the early aughts about an accusation of rape levied against Kobe Bryant. The charges were dropped and a civil case was settled out of court. Did Sonmez have the right to post that story on Twitter? Of course she did; but that is not the issue to me. I understand a big story can bring out the worst in some people, causing them to jump into the conversation whether they have something worthwhile to add or not. Sonmez's thoughtless Tweet added nothing new to the conversation and appeared to be another example of the popular, finger pointing 'but,what-about-this?' trend on social media. I don't expect every reporter to weep over the death of Kobe Bryant, but I do expect basic human sensibilities, decency, respect for the pain and grief of a wife and mother, of siblings left behind. Ms. Sonmez and many other reporters today, might consider taking a moment before they toss things out into the digital world. Of what value is their post? Does it contribute anything to the story, add depth or nuance? Or does dredging up old scandals at a time of death and a family's loss simply accomplish that one shining goal - keeping their own name in the news?

  237. @Nancy Northcutt The article outlines Ms. Sonmez's reasoning for her tweets, that survivors of rape and sexual assault like herself be heard even (or especially) in the deification of their assailants. You are right to point to the need to consider the pain and grief of his family, while Ms. Sonmez felt it was also important to not forget the voices of his alleged victims. One can disagree with Ms. Sonmez's judgement or assessment, but I don't think it is as easy an answer as you suggest, or so easily dismiss-able as only a self guided attempt to "keep [her] own name in the news."

  238. @Tarek But. She didn't say that on her tweet. She just posted a link to the story with a provocative headline and gave no context to why she was posting it. Hindsight.

  239. @Tarek She is not alone as a survivor of sexual assault. We are legion. But, a child is about to be buried alongside her father. Let the family mourn in peace. This is not the time.

  240. Setting aside the scary response from the Twitter-verse, what Ms. Sonmez's tweet clearly implied was: "He was accused of rape 17 years ago, he deserved to die." Let that sink in for a moment. A father died with his daughter and other families on the way to a basketball tournament for young girls. Please don't pretend a link to a new story isn't a commentary in this case. The timing of the tweet was in poor taste and when I read about the suspension I thought: good. People need to restrain themselves a bit, even journalists.

  241. Reporters should not Tweet. There are a lot of Twits on Twitter and Reporters need not add to that banality. Ms. Sonmez should have had the common decency to not mention that accusation so soon after Mr. Bryant died. If she wants to write a detailed and in depth story about what may or may not have happened in that Hotel Room she could have done so for the Washington Post or sent it to a different publication. That would have been far more fair and just and proper after the sudden death of one of the people involved. After all if she wants to support the prosecution of those who have taken advantage of women, she can scour the news feed and investigate each case as she see fit.

  242. It's tacky to dredge up sordid details of a deceased person's life even if she had the legal right to do it. Social media isn't very social sometimes.

  243. It’s been a long time since Twitter added any positive value to our society. Time to shut it down.

  244. That the Post suspended this woman even briefly is part of the deep chill that makes too many of us weigh the pros and cons of speaking freely, w a very real sense of danger looming in the background. I've had my own encounters with the trolls as an academic, and it's v scary. So...what is the point of free speech if speaking freely threatens our livelihoods, even our lives? If organizations cave to the trolls? And it's not just happening in journalism, but in academia, in government, and in business too... This is how democracies die...and quickly...

  245. I am devastated by the deaths of all who died with Kobe Bryant. The tenor and the soul of L.A., my city, are deeply stunned by this tragic loss that effects the deceased's families and friends. Immeasurable numbers globally were intersected by this gut wrenching incident. I am not objective about this issue: Mentioned within hours of his death the singular less than stellar moment – not a pattern of conduct -- in his life. Really! I wish he had skipped that part of maturation so that now his wife and family including his parents would not have to be reminded again: He was human; had flaws like all of us. I wondered why it had to be mentioned in first hours after his death. Flaws and all, few can argue that Kobe stood heads and shoulders above most men in the honorable and noble way he faced life even missteps in Colorado. It's a fact! And, I can say if he were white, it might have been referenced even in these times on the 3rd or 4th day of coverage. Maybe. But notwithstanding the double standard by race, there is the fact of the double standards of income, career, popularity and gender that also exist here -- standards not yet solidified. The journalist repeated what is known in the historical record. As a historical writer and researcher, I cannot encourage errors and omissions to conveniently revise history to protect the innocent and the young. By the same token, I find this reporter's conduct crass and crude. Did you really have to go there when and how you did?

  246. Everyone understands that reporters have their own set of opinions. What some journalists don't understand is that in today's day and age we desperately want information presented in an unbiased fashion. When reporters go online and churn out opinions it undermines their objectivity and value in our minds.

  247. This fiasco had to do with one thing above all: media men muzzling asssult victims. It is shameful, it is horrifying, it is revolting and it is the norm.

  248. Good for the post. Finally a modicum of decency. Re-running old news at a time when people are dealing with the shock, horrors and the general sadness of the moment when people are looking for current relevant news is classless, crass and unnecessary. Talk about a lack of sympathy, judgement and awareness. It is disgusting. She was trying to use this tragedy to bolster her name. An opportunist and a person with poor character. What did she hope to gain here? A free press must also be humane. Wait a few weeks if you really need or want to trample the dead.

  249. There is a middle ground here. The rape allegations are an important part of his history and should not be omitted. They also could be referred to a day or two later and not when Bryants body was still laying in the grass.

  250. What other information has the Washington Post suppressed in other news events, because it was deemed politically incorrect? When we read news in the Washington Post, we have to wonder, "what are they hiding?"

  251. You are seeing the world of Social Media at its worst. If people would ignore Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, etc, they would have more time and less problems. Where did the Russians attack our elections; Facebook? Some things need to be ignored much like the Antifa and the Right Wing nut fringe need to be ignored, or arrested, as they bring hyper hate to their activities. When you go to a rally and everyone has helmets and ball bats, or worse, it isn't going to be a love-in. People can no longer agree to disagree as now it is agree or die. I think the anonymous nature of the internet has added a lot of vitriol to our national conversations. Most of these people are anonymous cowards. Ms.Sonmez did the right thing to expose this hatred. I hope she is OK going forward.

  252. The only way to win the War is not to play the game. It is time that Journalists and News Organization Management drop Facebook and Twitter and get back to spending their time researching and writing the news. Spend the rest of your time playing with your kids and walking with your Grandparents.

  253. I thought the reason she was suspended was posting a screenshot of a work email on twitter (violating many rules, along with good sense), not the initial tweet.

  254. Also, the "culture war" did not come to the WaPo newsroom. Felicia Sonmez and her boss, Marty Baron, are on exactly the same side -- the left side -- of the political spectrum. The issue was simply that Baron thought it was in bad taste for the reporter -- on the day Bryant's death was reported -- to tweet a link to an old story about an even older sexual harassment case, but Sonmez thought it was something that needed to be done.

  255. No one is safe from the group-thinking, holier-than-thou, culture watchdog hoards--no author (as we've seen with American Dirt), no artist, no journalist, no anyone. Especially on Twitter, there is no nuance, little original thought, much self-congratulation. Thank God for real conversations with thinking people.

  256. It pretty darn ironic that Marty Baron sought to silence one of his writers due to a mob-like mentality when The Washington Post emblazons its digital and physical newspapers with these words: Democracy Dies in Darkness.

  257. Couldn’t she have waited a few days, and why post just this one particular part of his past and not include all the amazing things he did in his short life? While retaliatory threats etc.. are unacceptable, let’s not make this about journalists as victims— this is not confusing. Her original decision to post that tweet at that particular time was in very poor taste.

  258. “traditional press gatekeeping” People are aware, now more than ever, that the traditional press also has political leanings which influence their articles, which means, the people now are not only forced to watch out for internet freaks pulling non-facts out of thin air but traditional press outlets as well bending data to meet pre-determined outcomes.

  259. The culture wars permeate every aspect of "news" reporting. The very nature of what was once "news reporting" has morphed into advocacy pieces that comport to the agendas of the editors. The NYT editors have their agendas on race, best expressed in their polemic the "1619 project." The Murdoch editors have their agendas rooted in undermining governance of our country. The whole business model seems predicated on "click bait" headlines and teasers to attract subscribers. Its a cacophony of noise within which some good journalism occasionally gets done. Woe is us.

  260. So much of this is just Twitter's distortions. From its first days, it was clear that it was going to be a disaster for peoples' brains and relationships. The platform was literally intended to be vapid and mercurial—to play on the human brain's worst habits for a paycheck. Twitter never intended to provide any value to society whatsoever, and they haven't. All these new conversations and awarenesses haven't made our lives any better. In fact, Twitter is making them worse, even for people who don't use it. It's almost being forced on us. It's inane entertainment at best and cynical manipulation at worst. So you can get a witty quip from your favorite science writer every day. Is that worth the harassment, hatred, violence, incivility, and the incessant, desperate push to dumb everything down so nobody has to read or think anymore? This article wouldn't exist without the unhealthy importance people place on Twitter.

  261. There was no doubt that any news driven obituary of Kobe Bryant was going to include Colorado; not surprising news to those of knew of him. The Post writer suffered from "Tweet before thinking", a malady that a lot of people suffer from. Tweeting a link isn't journalism/reporting. And no, his incident shouldn't be minimized, but compared to the shock of his death it was old news. The matter was poorly handled by both the "writer" and management. By now it has been internally emailed and memoed at the Post on a large scale, probably accompanied by numerous re-education meetings.

  262. The NYT comments are a great place for public opinion and interesting to read. I enjoy adding my thoughts. But if I felt it would be harmful to me or my family I would stop posting. All the twittering on line is only that - TWITTER.

  263. I thought "culture war" was a code word for abortion. What does it have to do with Kobe Bryant? A famous actress posting on Facebook stated that Bryant was a "rapist", without adding that the accusation was not tried in court. Was the reporter that reckless? What was the exact charge against her?