Dave Barry’s Leave Is ‘Catalyst’ for Weingarten’s Syndication

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By: Dave Astor

One syndicate is offering newspapers Dave Barry’s former editor as a replacement for Dave Barry.

E&P learned today that “Below the Beltway” columnist Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post will enter syndication with the Washington Post Writers Group on Jan. 1. That’s when Barry will start a leave of absence that will last at least a year (although newspapers can publish reruns of his feature).

“We talked on and off for quite a while about syndicating Gene,” said WPWG Editorial Director/General Manager Alan Shearer. “Dave Barry’s leaving was the catalyst.”

Of course, WPWG will also sell Weingarten’s column to papers that don’t buy Barry’s feature.

Weingarten was Barry’s first editor at The Miami Herald (from 1982 to 1990) before moving to the Post. He began “Below the Beltway” in 2000, and it has appeared in other newspapers via the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. Weingarten also hosts the “Chatological Humor” online discussion every Tuesday for WashingtonPost.com.

The 53-year-old Weingarten said he admires Barry greatly, and learned a lot from editing and reading him. “Dave basically taught me everything I know about writing humor,” he told E&P. Weingarten did add that his column differs from Barry’s in certain ways — including being somewhat more political and “smart-alecky.”

“I like to explore the part of the brain that wants to laugh but isn’t sure it’s OK,” said the Post writer, who joked that he’s willing to send newspaper editors “boxes of cash” if they buy his column.

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