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Washington Post Redeploys Sports Staff During Coronavirus Coverage

"It is going to be impossible to fill even a 6-page daily Sports section for a while," the desk's honchos write.

Photograph by Evy Mages
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

The Washington Post will redirect a good chunk of its sports staff toward coronavirus coverage, according to a memo to the sports team on Wednesday from Sports section honchos Matt Vita and Matt Rennie. “[W]ithout basketball, hockey, baseball, golf, soccer, tennis and a host of other sports – along with the pages of results, standings and roundups that go with them – it is going to be impossible to fill even a 6-page daily Sports section for a while,”  they write. The daily Sports section in print will move inside the Style section and probably take up 2-3 pages there beginning Saturday. It will run as a standalone section on Sundays.

Some editors will help the Post’s 24/7 live coronavirus coverage, as will Nationals reporter Jesse Dougherty, Capitals reporter Samantha Pell, soccer reporter Steven Goff, and Wizards/NBA reporter Candace Buckner. Other editors will be seconded to that live file when their regular shifts end each night. Some journalists will join other desks: investigations and enterprise editor Joe Tone will edit in Local, and reporters Kent Babb, Roman Stubbs, and Robert Klemko will be detailed to National.

These moves are all temporary, Vita and Rennie say.

Memo:

Comrades,

The deep, comprehensive and expanding coronavirus coverage by the Post has reached the Sports department, and this will be affecting a few of you and your colleagues for the near future. Several of our reporters and editors have generously volunteered to help out with coverage efforts elsewhere in the newsroom. Dave Larimer and Alexa Steele will be transitioning to editing roles on the 24/7 coronavirus live file, as will Dan Hargett and Karl Hente at the end of their shifts in Sports each night. Joe Tone will be helping out editing on Local. Jesse Dougherty, Samantha Pell, Steve Goff and Candace Bucker will be working under Josh du Lac and Keith McMillan writing for the coronavirus live file. And Kent Babb, Roman Stubbs and Robert Klemko will be joining the National staff’s go-team to cover the story around the country. All of these moves are temporary but necessary as the Post reports on a story of such unprecedented magnitude.

Despite these changes, our work covering the world of sports and the impact COVID-19 is having on it continues unchanged. Your reporting on this crisis over the past few weeks has been outstanding. We’re eternally grateful for your efforts, especially so in these uncertain times when all of our lives are in a state of upheaval. We’ll need to stay on top of this story, even as we find new coverage areas to fill the gaps left in readers’ lives as their favorite sports activities are on hiatus. We’ll need to keep reporting and writing just as we always have. Readership on our website is at unprecedented levels and people are looking for alternatives to the unrelenting virus coverage, so we will continue to provide that with the kinds of enterprise, investigations, analysis and opinion for which Post Sports is known. The reality, however, is that without basketball, hockey, baseball, golf, soccer, tennis and a host of other sports – along with the pages of results, standings and roundups that go with them – it is going to be impossible to fill even a 6-page daily Sports section for a while. So starting this Saturday, the daily Sports section will be moving inside Style with a smaller footprint of probably 2-3 pages. The Sunday Sports section will continue to be published as a standalone section. These changes, too, will be temporary – and we can all hope they will end soon.

Thanks once again for rising to these new challenges. We’re proud to be here with you.

Matt and Matt

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.