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WaPo’s Martel to Presidential Campaign Trail

WaPo Style Editor Ned Martel, who announced to his staff earlier today that he’d be stepping down from Style, is headed to the presidential beat. He’ll focus on the “personalities” and “offbeat, veiled dramas.” The internal memo from Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli puts a really positive face on what happened earlier today. The note says Martel “has helped us illuminate Washington culture with flair” along with other compliments for the editor who now ventures into new territory where he will be now managed by Liz Spayd and Kevin Merida rather than managing a team of Style writers and editors.

UPDATE: Martel spoke with us by phone this afternoon. He says he’s excited to be going on the campaign trail. He says leaving Style was squarely his choice. He says there was a “range of emotions” today when he told staff he was stepping down for a new position. He says he’s never heard anything negative about his performance except on FishbowlDC. “I’m really excited to be writing again and I’ve had a great two years getting to know some super talented strengths and who taught readers a new way of looking at the Capitol and politics and how a story can really be told,” he said. When asked if anyone has left Style because they didn’t care for his management style, which FishbowlDC has been told repeatedly by present and past WaPo reporters, he replied, “I know that some people have left for new opportunities…talk to Howie [Kurtz], talk to Blake [Gopnik], to Robin [Givhan].” Really, to Givhan, we asked? “She’s never said anything to my face,” he said. “I know that I came into challenge the way the place has run. This is an organization that has welcomed few people in management positions from the outside. I was told there would be resistance to it. The Style section has had a unique and lively culture of challenging authority. I knew that being in authority would be unusual [as well as] sharing authority.” Has Martel been weighing this option for awhile? “Yeah, I’ve been talking about it for a long time,” said Martel who began at Style in 2009. “We’ve had structure here that has at times been contentious. I’m looking for ways to serve the paper as we move toward this enormous opportunity that is 2012. They’ve always said this was the best place for me.” After he announced today’s news he says his staff reacted in a variety of ways. “They all seemed to know,” he said. Asked if there were any tears, he replied, “I guess there was a range of emotion. I’m sure that some people … I’ve gotten a lot of amazingly supportive emails. It was [squarely my choice]. I’ve talked about writing since I got here. I think it’s hard to both edit and write.” Is Martel relieved at all that he’ll no longer be managing a team. “Well, I like managing,” he said. “I’ve always had a lot of fun starting something new. I’ve never sat in a single office for a two year period with no travel adventure. It will be fun to go back out there.”

See the memo…

Colleagues,

We’re pleased to announce that one of the newsroom’s great creative forces, Style editor Ned Martel, will soon move to join our formidable political
team in covering the 2012 presidential campaign. In this new role, Ned will direct his ambitions at the terrain less covered by other reporters blanketing the election. His focus will be on the personalities, the offbeat, the veiled dramas that enliven the narrative of our democracy.

In the two years since Ned has been here, he has brought his energy and distinctive eye to Style, first leading the section in partnership with
Lynn Medford, and then on his own this past year. He is an editor of infinite ideas and a compelling sense story. He gave Style a more distinctive character, with his emphasis on reported and more character-driven pieces. He has helped us illuminate Washington culture with flair.

In joining our politics coverage, Ned is returning to terrain he knows well. He worked for States News Service in his early days and has written for publications including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Men’s Vogue and more. A look through his clips shows his gifted pen and smart eye for a story.

Ned’s first story is still a few weeks away, but he already has begun to compile a story list. He will report to Liz Spayd but work with Kevin Merida and the politics team.

Marcus        Liz

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