Watchdog Blog

Barry Sussman: Dan Froomkin and the Washington Post

Posted at 10:16 am, June 19th, 2009
Barry Sussman Mug

Dan Froomkin, deputy editor for Nieman Watchdog, has just been fired from his main job as writer of the online White House Watch column for the Washington Post. Dan will do just fine. He is talented, immensely productive, has sharp insight, good ideas and is a total self-starter.

The unanswered question is, why was he fired? He loved his work and developed a very large following.

The Post hasn’t given any good reason. As editor of Nieman Watchdog I’ve worked closely with Froomkin for 5-1/2 years, and I certainly can’t think of one. The paper’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote in his blog Thursday that editors wouldn’t comment and referred him to a PR person. She issued a statement that one of Alexander’s blog readers said was baffling, Stalin-like and Orwellian. It was all of those:

“Editors and our research teams are constantly reviewing our online content to ensure we bring readers the most value when they are on our Web site while balancing the need to make the most of our resources. Regrettably, this means that sometimes features must be eliminated, and this time it was the blog that Dan Froomkin freelanced to The Post’s Web site.”

Late Thursday the Post’s editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, issued a statement that Alexander added to his post, saying, “With the end of the Bush administration, interest in the blog also diminished. His political orientation was not a factor in our decision.”

Froomkin is well-known online and his firing drew a quick, shocked reaction. By Friday morning more than 225 readers had appended comments to Alexander’s blog, the great majority of them infuriated with the firing.

Froomkin’s column is slated to run until late June or early July. He mentioned his firing in this morning’s piece, saying, “I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the readers who have e-mailed, blogged, commented, tweeted and left notes on my Facebook page. Your kind words and support mean the world to me.”

A Google search shows numerous articles on the firing.

The headline on Glenn Greenwald’s blog in Salon was, “The Post fires its best columnist. Why?”

“What makes this firing so bizarre and worthy of inquiry,” Greenwald wrote, “is that Froomkin was easily one of the most linked-to and cited Post columnists. At a time when newspapers are relying more and more on online traffic, the Post just fired the person who, in 2007, wrote 3 out of the top 10 most-trafficked columns.”

One Response to “Dan Froomkin and the Washington Post”

  1. Somraku medijske avtonomije* Borisa Vezjaka ob sproščeni rob at says:

    [...] Washington Posta niso ponudili nobene ’smiselne razlage’ za Froomkinovo odpustitev, ki je videti nelogična. Liberalni časopis odpušča (ne v okviru [...]

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