Washington Post lays off 20 newsroom employees

How

The Washington Post laid off 20 staffers on Tuesday, the latest in a series of media and technology companies to cut jobs in the face of a challenging economic climate and continuing declines in advertising revenue and readership.

In addition to eliminating those 20 positions, the company will also keep another 30 vacancies unfilled, a figure less extensive than many had expected. In mid-December, publisher Fred Ryan told staff that the company would eliminate a “single-digit percentage” of its 2,500-person staff because it “cannot keep investing resources in initiatives that do not meet our customers’ needs.”

As part of the layoffs, The Post will discontinue its video game and esports section, Launcher, which debuted in 2019, as well as KidsPost, its long-running news and features section aimed at children.

In a note to staff Tuesday afternoon, executive editor Sally Buzbee wrote that “we are not planning further job eliminations at this time.” She also said that newsroom leaders tried to prioritize eliminating vacant jobs over laying off workers.

“While such changes are not easy, evolution is necessary for us to stay competitive, and the economic climate has guided our decision to act now,” she wrote. “We believe these steps will ultimately help us to fulfill our mission to scrutinize power and empower readers.”

Even with the layoffs, The Post’s overall head count will remain the same or higher by the end of 2023. The company will continue to hire new personnel in other roles, Ryan has said. The company will continue to expand its coverage in areas that provide “high value to our subscribers and new audiences,” a Post spokeswoman said last month.

As news of the layoffs spread among Post staffers Tuesday, The Washington Post Guild sent a message to its members saying that “we believe any job eliminations right now — at a time of continued growth and expansion — are unacceptable.”

The job reductions at The Post punctuate a period of internal tension and turnover. Several senior managers and high-profile staff have departed for rival publications. In November, the company abruptly announced the closing of its Sunday magazine and laid off its 10 employees, as well as The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic. The Post has also seen a decline in numbers of digital subscribers, a dip that has prompted top management to examine its strategic goals and ambitious expansion plans. The employee union has seen record numbers of recruits, a surge fueled in part by dissatisfaction among staff.

Jeff Bezos, The Post’s billionaire owner, has lately been drawn into more direct involvement with the publication. He visited The Post’s headquarters last week and held meetings with top executives, including Ryan and executive editor Sally Buzbee, as well as some newsroom staffers. He sat in on a morning news meeting after which an employee approached him about the layoffs. He responded that he was there to listen, not answer questions. But he added, “I’m committed,” according to the employee. “Believe me, I’m committed.”

The industry is undergoing a dark season of cuts. CNN laid off hundreds of employees in December. Gannett went through several rounds of layoffs last year. Last week, Vox Media laid off 7 percent of its 1,900-person workforce, with the CEO citing the current “economic climate.” On Monday, Spotify cut 6 percent of its workforce, and Google’s parent company Alphabet cut 12,000 jobs, the most in company history.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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