Update on Washington City Paper Ending Its Print Publication

From a story on dcist.com by Jenny Gathright headlined “Washington City Paper Reverses Layoff of Longtime Photographer Darrow Montgomery”:

Washington City Paper said Thursday that it was reversing the layoff of its longtime staff photographer Darrow Montgomery. The news comes after the D.C. alt-weekly announced last week that it would be ending its print publication and laying off five members of its staff —including, initially, Montgomery.

Montgomery has worked at the paper since 1986, and has held the staff photographer position since the early 2000s. He declined to comment for this story.

In a statement posted on social media, City Paper said the decision for him to remain on staff came after a series of discussions over the past several days.

“Darrow Montgomery has chronicled our city through his photographs for nearly four decades,” said the statement. “After discussions with Darrow over the past several days about the vision for the digital-first Washington City Paper, we are thrilled to announce that he is going to continue his work with WCP online. Every great digital-first publication needs a strong visual identity, and we are grateful to have Darrow’s talent and leadership moving forward.”

Followers of Montgomery’s work greeted the news with relief.

“[Montgomery] has taken every iconic photograph of D.C. in the Home Rule era, from Marion Barry (many times) to Chuck Brown with the long neck of his guitar,” wrote At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who is also a former City Paper reporter, on Twitter. “Sometimes we have to reconsider decisions, and great move by [Washington City Paper owner Mark Ein] to keep Darrow’s lens in action in the new web-only [City Paper].”

But as supporters of local journalism celebrated Montgomery’s continued tenure at City Paper, they also questioned why the publication’s other four layoffs could not also be reversed.

The other people who lost their jobs were sports editor Kelyn Soong, City Lights editor Ella Feldman, creative director Nayion Perkins, and director of classifieds, human resources, and circulation Heather McAndrews. Perkins, who grew up in the District, pointed out in a statement earlier this week that he was the paper’s only Black editorial staffer.

“I feel like while I was working hard to represent D.C., I was ultimately deemed as invaluable,” Perkins wrote on Twitter.

Ein, a wealthy local businessman and philanthropist, purchased City Paper in 2017 for $50,000 dollars, Washingtonian reported at the time (Ein told the Washington Post that he paid more but declined to say how much). At the time, Ein said he was clear-eyed about the challenges facing local media, but wanted to make the paper sustainable for the long-term.

“The return here is less financial and more civic- and community-oriented,” said Ein.


Staff And Locals React To End Of Washington City Paper Print Edition

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