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Barras says she and Witt had a difference of opinion. Admitting that she's not an easy edit, she told me, "When a column runs under my name, it's going to reflect my opinions, not yours. I needed more freedom than he was willing to give." Barras is now working on a book, a radio show, and a column for commondenominator.com.
"Jonetta offered her resignation and I accepted it," Witt repeated ad nauseum. "Not to sound too much like Gary Condit, but Jonetta asked me herself not to speak about her departure, and I want to honor her request."
Insiders say both have shortcomings: Barras is combative and not a graceful writer, while Witt can be disrespectful and unsupportive. But the rift comes at a time of waning staff morale and has prompted a new round of internal complaints about his managing style. And not all of them are anonymous: Dorothy Brazill, a friend of Barras and head of the watchdog group DCWatch, says of Witt, "The one trait that seems to be lacking in addition to his maturity is the ability to manage and supervise people."
Witt says, "I'm putting out a darn good newspaper, which is the only thing that counts." He notes that in the past year, City Paper won an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies award and several first-place awards from the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. So why didn't he attend the SPJ awards dinner? They were charging too much for a table, he says, so he threw a staff party at a local bar instead.
City Paper may have lost "Loose Lips," but the media column has just resumed after a 15-month hiatus as "Press Corpse." The writer is Associate Editor Richard Byrne. Wish him luck.