WAMU Responds to Charges of Impropriety at Donor Breakfast
Erik Wemple further develops the story of Jim Asendio, the WAMU news director who resigned yesterday. Wemple writes that Asendio resigned over a breakfast with donors, while WAMU tells DC Porcupine that the breakfast was an innocent explanation of how reporters put together stories.
When Asendio said he wouldn’t go to the breakfast, he received an email from General Manager Caryn Mathes, according to Wemple:
Asendio recounts the wording of the e-mail: “My refusal to attend a major station event would send an irreversible and permanent statement on whether I was a member of our team.” Strong message right there. “So, seeing the handwriting on the wall and not wanting to get into any kind of job difficulty, I felt it best to stand on my journalistic ethics and resign.”
In an email to DC Porcupine, WAMU spokesperson Kay Summers described the “Meet the Producers” Breakfast for around 30 people, as well 9 of the stations reporters and producers.
"The context was to give donor constituents a look behind the curtain of how the work is performed," Summers writes. The WAMU staff talked about how they produce their work, according to Summers.
"Allowing people to see the impact that their investment makes in our work is completely appropriate," Summers writes, and adds that a donor and station reporter would never be allowed to communicate privately.
Summers declined to comment on Asendio’s exit, citing American University’s personnel policy.