What Happened With Nell?

There’s been a lot of buzz ever since we reported the departure of The Washington City Paper’s Nell Boeschenstein. There has been a lot of speculation about why she was leaving, especially after having been previously hailed by Erik Wemple as “a hotshot.”

Boeschenstein writes in to FishbowlDC to explain:

    There’s been speculation recently as to why I chose to leave the City Paper after having only been there a little over a month. I am writing to clear all this up because this speculation has extended to slander of my former boss, Erik Wemple, and it is all completely untrue.

    I left the City Paper for my own, personal reasons that had nothing to do with Erik Wemple or his management style. I left simply because I felt like I wasn’t the right person for the job or for the city, for that matter. I also knew that there was somebody out there who would be great at, and thrive in, that job and in D.C. because both offer so many opportunities to the right writers.

    I’m sorry I can’t give you anything salacious, but scandal simply wasn’t an aspect of my departure. Erik is a fantastic editor and I’m sure that anyone else you talk with about this will second that.

    All the best,
    Nell Boeschenstein

Here’s how we see it: It appears that Nell’s story holds up and she isn’t merely playing Good Cop for Wemple. In emails obtained exclusively by FishbowlDC (and not from either Nell or Wemple) that were exchanged between Nell and Wemple after she decided to leave the City Paper, it is clear that, while Wemple is clearly perturbed and annoyed at Boeschenstein for leaving, Nell doesn’t harbor any ill will towards Wemple.

Some tidbits:


    “I truly don’t believe that there’s much of a misunderstanding here. I looked at you right in the eye and said I’ll need a few more weeks than the two week’s notice in the letter… But please don’t say it was the result of a misunderstanding. It was because you at some point made a decision to screw me over and seize on this gray area as a pretext for doing so.”


    “The other thing bothersome about this is that I requested and worked with you to give C-Ville a long lag time before you came here. We both agreed at that time that it was important to do that. And for you to sprint out the door here feels like a big slam.”

True: Not exactly a “light touch.” But Wemple’s clear frustration at Nell provided her with an opportunity to express her own grudges, but in all of her responses, she doesn’t and her tone is cordial, calm and polite. She seems eager and willing to make her exit as smooth and amicable as possible.

Also true: It is interesting that Nell isn’t the first “Show & Tell” columnist to leave prematurely (ahem) and it is well-known that Wemple is a tough editor and perhaps even a more tough newsroom presence. But all signs indicate that, for Nell, it–the Washington City Paper, the job, the expectations of her and Washington in general–was simply not a good fit. But there isn’t as much evidence of serious acrimony between Wemple and Nell as many have suggested.

(Oh and the departure of Arts Editor Leonard Roberge also couldn’t have helped things, from Nell’s perspective.)