WaPo Buyout Memos Depict Rosier Times

WaPo‘s internal memos on reporters taking the buyout are starting to trickle in. When you see the number of years these journalists spent there, it’s downright depressing. Also a downer is the fact that “caking” is a verb at WaPo. FishbowlDC has obtained several of these memos. To be sure, the numbers are much larger than the memo count suggests.

Some journalists haven’t left yet. Some didn’t get farewell memos. Their choice? It’s tough to say. But whatever the case, all memos are glowing and some don’t bear a single mention of the buyout. Instead, they highlight the writer leaving the profession and moving on to any number of greener pastures. They mention an “infectious laugh” or a “stellar legacy” and a “quintessential jack of all trades.” More heaps of praise: “tireless energy,” or “amazing attitude” and a “fire in his soul.” The memos depict the departures in a Stepfordesque light, as if this wasn’t bad news.

This afternoon there’s cake for Jon DeNunzio, who has worked at WaPo for 17 years. His memo does mention the buyout, saying, “Please join us near the Engagement Desk and the News Hub at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to say farewell to Jon DeNunzio, interactivity editor. And, alas, buyout taker.”

Other departures with memos include the following: James Grimaldi (12 years, they’ll be “caking” for him later this afternoon and cocktailing with him tonight), Joanna Hernandez (moving on to be Director of Career Services at City University in New York), Nathan Willis (seven plus years, moving on to Motley Fool’s as an editor), Robert Pierre (19 years, has often been the “conscience” of the Post, moving on to be a consultant) David Hilzenrath (25 years, headed to Project on Government Oversight, a.k.a. POGO), and design employees Marty Barrick (27 years) and Tony Knott (12 years).

All memos in full after the jump…

For James Grimaldi:

Today is James V. Grimaldi’s last day at The Washington Post.  He leaves behind a stellar legacy as an investigative reporter always willing to take on the toughest subjects.  After arriving on the Financial Staff from the Seattle Times in 2000, James immediately made his mark as an aggressive, hard-nosed reporter covering the Microsoft anti-trust trial, Firestone tires and Enron’s overseas shenanigans.  He went on to add his reporting muscle to investigations of animal deaths at the National Zoo, which resulted in the resignation of the zoo’s director, and abusive spending at the Smithsonian, which resulted in the resignation of the institution’s top official. With Susan Schmidt and R. Jeffrey Smith, James in 2005 drove the Abramoff scandal investigation into new directions that would ultimately result in criminal charges for Abramoff and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and a Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for Schmidt, Grimaldi and Smith. He has investigated everything from NASA and the Redskins, from Ralph Nader to Ralph Reed. Most recently, he has examined the movement of guns in America and money tied to the kleptocrats felled by the Arab Spring.  He jumped into the role of accountability reporting for the presidential campaigns of 2004, 2008 and 2012, producing groundbreaking reporting in each.  His last national scoop occurred last year when he exposed the mega-donations of Sheldon Adelson to the Newt Gingrich campaign.

James is also prized as a colleague who was always willing to share his
knowledge of IRS 990s and FOIA law with other reporters and always willing
to pitch in on a story, big or small, long-term or quick turn-around.

James will be joining the Wall Street Journal as a senior writer doing
investigative work.

Please join us for a caking in the Investigative space at 3:30 p.m. today.
We will toast him with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Beacon Sky
Bar, 1615 Rhode Island Avenue.

Marcus   Liz   John   Jeff

For Joanna Hernandez:

Multiplatform editor Joanna Hernandez has decided to put away her copy
editor’s green eyeshade and join the ranks of academia, shepherding future
reporters and editors through the beginning of their careers as the
Director of Career Services at the Graduate School of Journalism with City
University in New York.

Joanna is one of the most influential minority journalists in the country,
currently serving as president of UNITY: Journalists of Color. She is also
a lifetime member and former board member of the National Association of
Hispanic Journalists.

Prior to joining The Post, she had an extensive newspaper and academic
career, serving as a part-timer on the copy desk of The Record and the
Herald News in North Jersey and teaching copy editing and reporting at New
York University, City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism
and Hunter College.

Joanna was director/editor of the Feature Production Center at the New York
Times Regional Media Group; and has also had various editing and reporting
positions at The Star-Ledger in Newark; the San Francisco Examiner,
Newsday; the New York Daily News, the New Haven Independent and the
Bridgeport Post.

Joanna signed up for the buyout, and her last day is Thursday. Wish her
luck in academia.

For Nathan Willis:

Nathan Willis, our versatile multiplatform editor, will be leaving the Post
after seven-plus years with the company.

Anyone who’s worked with Nathan knows he is a quintessential jack of all
trades. Whether it’s editing blog post, stories and photo galleries for the
Web; serving as topic editor during the week; setting up our weekly bulldog
edition; overseeing the weekly travel section or accepting assignments to
fill in for months at a time for our weekly features sections, Nathan has
truly demonstrated the role of a multiplatform editor.

A native Kansan, Nathan first arrived at The Post as a summer intern in
2001 after previous internships in Kansas and Oregon. A hiring pause
resulted in his temporary relocation to the Dallas Morning News for two
years, but he returned to The Post in early 2004 and has been here ever
since, starting out as a copy editor on the Metro desk and also serving as
deputy chief overseeing the Extras desk.

Nathan signed up for the buyout, and his last day is Thursday. Wish him
luck with his new position as the Motley Fool’s premium services editor.

For Robert Pierre:

After 19 years, Robert Pierre is leaving The Washington Post.  It has been a remarkable run for Robert, not only as a reporter and editor but as a newsroom leader.  The Bayou Bengal—he’s a native of Franklin, La., and attended LSU—cut his teeth covering the election of Wayne K. Curry, the first black county executive of Prince George’s County.  He was part of an all-star class of young reporters hired to boost our local coverage that included Michael Shear, Spencer Hsu and Hamil Harris.  He went on to cover the Maryland state legislature, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and the heartland of America as the Chicago bureau chief.  When he came back to Metro, he did memorable work covering juvenile justice issues and communities east of the Anacostia River.

But that only begins to describe Robert’s impact in this newsroom.  He was
the first one to propose doing a project on black men, back in 2000, and was a key member of the group that conceived of the groundbreaking “Being a Black Man” series that ran in 2006.  He wrote one of the early pieces–about a black boy growing up in a predominantly white suburban enclave.  It was an illustration of the growing ranks of upwardly-mobile black families who are settling everywhere, and of the black children who are being raised in privileged environments.

He became a Local editor in 2008 and helped shepherd our coverage of many major events in recent years, such as Snowmageddon.  Ask any reporter who has been edited by Robert over the years and they’ll tell you that working with him is a fun ride, as his sense of humor always makes the work go faster.

Most importantly, Robert has often been the conscience of The Washington Post.  He was never afraid to challenge the fundamental ideas behind our strategy and direction, even when those challenges were aimed directly at newsroom leaders.  He has always cared passionately about this institution and our mission as journalists.  “He has fire in his soul,” National Editor Kevin Merida said.

His final gift to us is The Root DC, a site that rose from Robert’s belief that our coverage of African American communities simply was not up to the standards of The Washington Post.  Given a chance to see his vision to fruition, Robert, along with Chris Jenkins, built a site that provides a showcase for our own journalism and space for fresh new voices from those communities.  Robert’s last day is Friday.  He’s planning to hang his shingle as a consultant.  While we will sorely miss his passion and creativity, we’re pretty sure that this won’t be the last we hear of him.

Marcus          Liz

For David Hilzenrath:

David Hilzenrath has accepted a job as editor-in-chief at the Project on Government Oversight – or POGO, as it is well-known to accountability reporters. While it’s painful to lose a hard-working colleague who has been at the Post for 25 years, it must be said that this is a match that’ll make unscrupulous bureaucrats everywhere quake to the roots of their expense-account loafers. Anyone who has crossed paths with David – one of the most tenacious and prosecutorial reporters to ever pick up a notebook – will know he’s a perfect fit for an organization that has a huge button on its homepage saying, “REPORT CORRUPTION.” Please join me in congratulating David and wishing him well.


For Marty Barrick and Tony Knott:

The design department is saying good-bye to two long-time employees this
week – Marty Barrick from Features and Tony Knott from News.

Marty began her career at The Post in the graphics department 27 years ago,
working nights updating weather maps and constructing charts in a pre-desktop publishing world. Her first foray into layout was in Business and since that time, she has lent her considerable design talents to virtually every section in features. In particular, she has elevated the visual bar for Weekend, Travel and most recently Food and KidsPost with her tireless energy and amazing attitude.

A visual journalist through and through, Marty is a quiet leader in the
department whose experience and knowledge has proven invaluable to those of
us who have followed her.

Although we will miss her terribly, we are all excited for her as she
enters this new chapter of her life. She is looking forward to spending
more time with her two girls and husband, while also pursuing her passion
of painting.

Tony has been a part of the news design department since September of 2000.
At The Post, Tony has worked in every news section – A-Section, Business,
Sports – and he currently is the art director for the Real Estate section.

Tony worked at The Arizona Republic and The Long Beach Press-Telegram
before joining The Post. He also spent eight years in the Navy where he
eventually became a speechwriter for the Commander in Chief of the Pacific

We’ll miss Tony’s laugh, his fashion sense, and hearing about his latest
sports injuries.

Their last days are this Thursday. Please join us in wishing them all the

Janet  Chris  Greg