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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   May 1999  issue

Music Writin’ Blues   

“Shocked, surprised, disappointed” are the words Richard Harrington uses to describe his feelings upon learning of his dismissal from the Washington Post’s pop music beat.


By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

"Shocked, surprised, disappointed" are the words Richard Harrington uses to describe his feelings upon learning of his dismissal from the Washington Post's pop music beat. Harrington, who has covered rock, folk, jazz, blues, country, hip hop and almost everything in between in his 22 years on the beat, was told by the recently appointed Style section editor, Eugene Robinson, that music would no longer be Harrington's thing once a replacement was found. One of the reasons, according to Harrington, is that he didn't write enough trend stories or pieces on "hot new young bands." "I feel that it was a wrong decision," says Harrington, 52. He's not the only one. Style writers signed a petition asking for his reinstatement, and local musicians and music lovers began an e-mail campaign supporting the critic. "Sometimes when I think about it...it brings tears to my eyes," Harrington says of the petition. "I thought it was very brave." Harrington expects to stay on the beat a few more months and would like to continue working for the Post afterward, but he's received no indication as to whether he will be moved to another position. Robinson did not return calls.