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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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