Peter Perl leaves Washington Post

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Peter Perl is leaving the paper, he confirmed on Twitter after Richard Prince first reported it.

In an email to Poynter, Perl writes:
“Yes, I had passed up a decade’s worth of opportunities to retire early or take buy-outs, and realized that after 32 years here — and 40 in daily journalism! — the time had come.”

He says he will continue to do freelance writing and editing, as well as executive coaching.

Former Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas revealed in a June 2011 New York Times Magazine article he’d told Perl that he was an illegal immigrant to the U.S., information Perl decided to keep to himself. Perl explained that decision to Poynter’s Kelly McBride:

“This was, at the time, not a close call. It was clear to me that I believed that my taking action would have resulted in his losing his job and maybe being deported. And I felt like, at his age and his situation, that as much as I trust the leadership of the Washington Post, they would have been obligated to put in motion a whole series of events that were clearly going to result in real damage to Jose.

And I made a tactical judgment. … it seemed clear to me that he was OK in his current status, he had a valid driver’s license. As long as he didn’t attempt to travel outside the country or get, you know, arrested for a crime, or whatever, he could do this indefinitely…

He basically wanted to unburden himself. I said, ‘You’ve done the right thing, and now it’s like our problem and I’ll take care of it.’ Which was like great, what am I going to do now?”

Perl is an unusually deft writer, and if I might slip out of my news voice for a moment here, easily one of the most courtly and genial people ever to work in journalism. As the Post’s standards honcho, he undertook an initiative to bring readers into the newsroom for critiques.

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  • Lewis Kostiner

    Peter has been a part of my life since 5th. grade. A true original, but most of all a REAL person. Love you man! Lewis Kostiner and Annie!

  • A. Scott Walton

    the key word mentioned below is “mentor”. the DOA dailies in Detroit and Nashville once had them. others, sadly, did not. and the state of diversification in the newsroom suffers from it still.

  • Tom Jackman

    Probably the best liked person in the newsroom. Universally respected. Everyone hating to see him go.

  • Steven King

    Peter was a great mentor to me in the early days of my newsroom management career. He is a great coach, writer, editor and above all a caring gentleman. The Washington Post is loosing a valuable and non-renewable resource.