The controversial top editor of WaPo‘s Style section Ned Martel is stepping down from his post.
He just announced the news to Style staff. Sources tell us the news was expected by Style watchers who witnessed the storied features and arts section’s precipitous decline under Martel.
Martel was brought into the section in 2009 but things haven’t gone as smoothly with staff as top brass would have liked. He is not leaving the publication.
UPDATE: We’re getting overwhelming reports that Martel was pushed out by Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. When Martel came on board, Brauchli teamed him up to run style with Lynn Medford. There are reports of the pair repeatedly clashing over the years. Brauchli has always denied publicly that Martel is problematic. Privately is another matter. “Ned is absolutely brilliant,” Brauchli told Washingtonian‘s Harry Jaffe in February of this year. “He has exactly the right idea of what Style should be.” But reporters past and present are telling us that Martel forced Robin Givhan out as well as a number of other Style writers who did not want to work for him because he has a rep for having a “demeaning” management style. As we reported last week, Richard Leiby jumped ship for another section after working for Style for 20 years. According to an ex-Postie, it’s nearly impossible to get fired after you’re there nine months: “So typically they move you to horrible beats or some such until you quit. I wonder what they’ll do with him.”
What will they do with him? Well, we’re hearing strong reports that Martel is far from fired. In fact, he’s headed for something allegedly big and “exciting” at the Post that will surprise and impress people when announced. The announcement is expected within the next 24 hours.
Martel was first recommended to Publisher Katharine Weymouth by a close friend, NYT‘s Maureen Dowd.
We’ve reached out to Martel for comment. So far, he’s quiet as a mouse.