Back in the halcyon days we’re always hearing about, when the drinks cart tottered around newsrooms across America at 5 p.m. sharp and journalists regularly had a bottle of booze in their bottom left-hand drawers, we imagine there were pretty regular fights in the offices of newspapers and magazines. But no longer — partially because we’re less drunk, and partially because the ink-stained wretches of today just don’t seem like the type of people to engage in fisticuffs. (Maybe it’s because we’re just so sad all the time. About the Internet.) We’re just not fighters! Especially not style writers, the torchbearers of the trend piece and the stalwarts of the soft lede.
Or so we thought! See, Beltway journalists have been buzzing all weekend about a fight that occurred in the Washington Post newsroom, which started between a “Style” section writer and an editor, and which eventually involved executive editor Marcus Brauchli. Basically, editor Henry Allen had been berating writer Monica Hesse about a somewhat tenuous trend piece when fellow writer Manuel Roig-Franzia got up to defend her. From Politico:
Allen, according to the Washingtonian, had told Hesse that a piece she had written was “the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.” Roig-Franzia, also working on the story with Hesse that ran Saturday, told Allen not to be such a “c—sucker.” Allen swung twice, with one punch hitting Roig-Franzia, according to sources. Next, staffers on the 4th floor — including Brauchli, whose office is temporarily across from the Style section during renovations — jumped in to help break up the altercation.
The only thing more unbelievable about this story than the fact that two such dudes actually started punching each other, and that one such punch actually landed, is that everyone else around them actually got up to intervene.
Well, and the bit at the beginning where we said journalists don’t keep bottles of booze in their lower left-hand drawers anymore. You probably shouldn’t believe that part, either.