Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez has been receiving death and rape threats following a tweet she sent out with a link to a story about sexual assault allegations against Kobe Bryant, shortly after the NBA player’s death. Sonmez’s home address was published online by an angry member of the public. Upon receiving this information, Sonmez’s editors placed her on paid suspension, and suggested she stay elsewhere for the night.
In comparison with Sonmez’s situation, Post reporter Shane Harris also faced online harassment last year, though of a lesser intensity. However, when Harris reported to his editors that someone had discovered his address, the Post immediately provided Harris with a 24/7 armed security guard for 3 full days.
The disparities in treatment between these two reporters and situations is only one example of the unequal treatment of men and women at the Post, according to multiple past and present employees. One current staffer at the Post commented, “The place is run by men and it creates a particular atmosphere and assigns a higher value to certain male characteristics. I’ve been a victim of it in a broad way, as most women in the newsroom have.” No one interviewed by the Huffington Post was willing to submit their name on the record due to fears of retaliation/damage to careers. Additionally, many expressed a hesitancy to criticize the Post at a time when media “credibility is under attack by a White House hostile to the press.” However, this makes their criticism especially notable.
According to a report published last year by the Post Guild (the union representing Post employees), women are paid less than men at the Washington Post, which further supports the accusations of inequality within its work environment. One former Washington Post employee told the Huffington Post that she was fired after asking for a raise. While some Post employees sent out formal statements disputing these claims of gender inequality, data published by the union’s report explicitly denotes the disparities in pay between men and women in the newsroom. Some of these gaps neared approximately $10,000.
Sources: Huffington Post 02/03/2020; Huffington Post 01/28/2020; NY Times 01/27/2020; Washington Post Guild 11/06/2019