[image-1] Quintin Washington has conducted hundreds of interviews with newsmakers since 2013, but little did he know that he’d be the one making headlines with a simple tweet.

Washington became the focus of national attention Monday after posting a photo on Twitter of the Mother Emanuel Way Historic District, including the Courtyard Charleston Historic District-Marriott hotel. The hotel’s Twitter account responded to the local independent journalist, asking that he “not include the hotel in Mother AME photos.” The request drew harsh criticism on social media and the story quickly spread online.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe they would ask me to remove a photo that wasn’t really relevant to them,” Washington says. “It was more relevant toward Mother Emanuel and actually the weather because as you saw with the Twitter caption, it said, ‘The Mother Emanuel Way Memorial District on a warm, Sunday afternoon in December.’ I took it on a public sidewalk right as I was out running after work. To me, it was very innocuous. It was harmless.”

While the host of YouTube series “Quintin’s Close-Ups” says he has not yet received an official response from managers at the Courtyard, he did get an apology from Peter Hoffman, the vice president of operations of Interstate Hotels and Resorts, which manages the Charleston hotel, and the public relations agency representing the company. According to Washington, he was contacted by Hoffman and given more information about what may have led to such a response from the associate who manages the hotel’s Twitter account and her relationship with Emanuel AME Church following the tragic shooting in June that claimed the lives of nine parishioners.

[image-2] “She found the tweet and photo I had posted, and it brought up a lot of emotions from June 17 because she worked that night. He said that her reply to me, as far as the tweet and the photo, was simply wrong, and they are going to rectify it,” says Washington. “They are going to have a one-on-one conversation with her. I didn’t get any offers or anything like that, just a simple apology, and that’s all I wanted. I’m very content with that.”

Although Washington has his hands full managing the massive amount of attention he’s received over the past 24 hours, he hasn’t let the controversy distract him from continuing to produce “Quintin’s Close-Ups,” which has earned the reporter an official honor from the S.C. House of Representatives. 

“It’s obviously overwhelming. I’m trying to do whatever I can to keep my head low and really try to focus on what I’ve been doing all along, and that is one-on-one interviews. I just interviewed coach Earl Grant from the College of Charleston this morning, and even then, I was still getting Twitter notifications and direct messages and texts, voicemail messages and Facebook postings,” he says. “Something like this, which is so big, I can understand why people have the need to really chime in and get some sort of response from Marriott. Some people still feel that Marriott hasn’t done enough. … I’m always asking newsmakers about what’s going on, and now I’m making the news. It’s a little eerie, but I know how to deal with it. I’ve learned as the situation has progressed how to deal with it from a PR standpoint and from a news standpoint.”

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