Out with the old. In with the new.
So goes the slow but steady procession of changes happening at TWT since Sam Dealey came aboard as editor in February.
Not surprisingly, some aren’t pleased.
Three more reporters are being laid off this week – a longtime religion writer, Julia Duin (pronounced Deen), a foreign correspondent and a state department reporter will all have their positions eliminated before the week is out. In coming weeks and months, the newspaper will add reporters in the core news area of politics, FishbowlDC has learned.
To be sure, Dealey has faced an uphill battle that hasn’t always endeared him to staff. Over the past several months, some reporters have questioned his style and intentions. They watched as publisher, Jonathan Slevin, was ousted after clashing with Dealey.
But there is more to it.
FishbowlDC spoke with Duin by phone Wednesday. The conversation was not smooth, moving in fits and starts of Duin claiming to go on and off the record, of claiming to have no warning signs of her layoff. When questioned about the events leading up to her layoff, she expressed discomfort with the interview and repeatedly wanted to know if FishbowlDC would be talking with Dealey. The answer was always yes, I would seek comment from him just as I sought comment from her.
Dealey wrote to FishbowlDC on Wednesday: “The Times is moving forward in a new direction with new priorities. In some instances that necessitates position eliminations, of which Ms. Duin’s was one. We thank Ms. Duin for her years of service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Duin says she didn’t see the layoff coming, but there were signs. Even she begrudgingly admits this to FishbowlDC and on her blog (Julia’s blog). Duin writes: “I knew things were going south when my articles were either cut in half, tossed out of the print edition or placed in the back of the paper.” She claims she was let go because of a WaPo story by Ian Shapira on May 1 in which she said there were snakes in the newsroom and otherwise disparaged management.
An excerpt from Shapira’s May 1 story:
The finances are so tight that the newspaper hasn’t paid some of its bills or tended to basic maintenance issues — such as hiring an exterminator to deal with mice and snakes sneaking into the building on New York Avenue in Northeast.
“The feeling everyone feels is that it’s a totally rudderless ship,” said Julia Duin, the paper’s longtime religion reporter. “Nobody knows who’s running it. Is it the board of directors? We don’t know. There was a three-foot-long black snake in the main conference room the other day. We have snakes in the newsroom — the real live variety, at least. One of the security people gallantly removed it.”
Continued after the jump.
> Update: Duin had seven front page stories in April, not three as was previously reported.