The Washington Post announced on Tuesday that Laura Wagner will be joining the publication as a media reporter.
In the press release announcing Wagner’s hire, the Post writes that “Laura will cover the rapidly changing digital media industry.”
Wagner comes from Defector Media, a sports and culture website assembled with former staffers from Deadspin that resigned from the site due to G/O Media’s “stick to sports” editorial interference (and forcing out editors Barry Petchesky and Megan Greenwell).
Prior to her time at Defector, she was a senior staff writer at Vice. Wagner has also written for Slate, and NPR, and has had her work published in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Wagner announced that she was joining Defector in Feb. 2021. She spent the past two-plus years working with former Deadspin colleagues to help build the site.
Perhaps Wagner’s best and most important piece of reporting for Defector came last month when she revealed that the people who acquired Football Outsiders were screwing over the people who built it. Another notable piece she wrote there covered the New York Times’ “no politics” policies and how they apply to The Athletic.
However, it appears that Wagner’s decision to leave for the Post was more than just being afforded a better opportunity. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, which did a recent analysis piece on Defector Media, Wagner and her colleagues were afforded free rein and didn’t have any quotas to meet. As Danny Funt of CJR writes, “She spent a couple of months on a story that didn’t pan out; nobody bothered her about it.” But there’s more to the story than just that, with Wagner referencing sources’ reluctance to speak to Defector:
The other day, Laura Wagner also broke the news to her colleagues that she would be leaving, for a media-reporter role at the Washington Post. She told me that the limited access Defector afforded had been holding her back from doing her best work. “I’m excited to join the Washington Post and have everyone answer my calls and emails,” she said. She would also be making more money. “I am obviously bummed that Wags is leaving,” Ley said, “not only because she’s a great reporter and writer, but also because she’s a good friend. I am also extremely excited for her, though.”
Undoubtedly, her access at the Washington Post will be much different.