The Washington Post to Cut 240 Jobs

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “The Washington Post to Cut 240 Jobs”:

The Washington Post is cutting about 240 jobs across the organization as it tries to offset challenges with digital subscriptions and advertising, according to a companywide email.

Patty Stonesifer, the interim chief executive officer, said to Post employees that the company hoped to achieve the cuts through voluntary buyouts. The buyouts will be offered to staff members this week.

The company has about 2,600 employees in total, with more than 1,000 in its newsroom.

“Our prior projections for traffic, subscriptions and advertising growth for the past two years — and into 2024 — have been overly optimistic,” Ms. Stonesifer wrote. She added: “The urgent need to invest in our top growth priorities brought us to the difficult conclusion that we need to adjust our cost structure now.”

The move is the latest indication of The Post’s business struggles. The company, which is owned by the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is on track to lose roughly $100 million this year.

The number of subscriptions at The Post has declined in recent years — it now has roughly 2.5 million subscribers, down from a high of three million subscribers at the end of 2020. The Post has also struggled in the face of an industrywide decline in digital advertising.

Mr. Bezos, who paid $250 million for the newspaper in 2013, has previously said he wants the publication to be profitable.

Some of The Post’s troubles have been placed at the feet of Fred Ryan, the longtime chief executive and publisher, who announced his resignation in June. Mr. Ryan, a former Reagan aide and Politico executive who joined The Post in 2014, oversaw abundant growth in the company during the first five years of his tenure. The newsroom roughly doubled in size and subscriptions soared.

But The Post, like other news organizations, saw a drop-off in subscribers after former President Donald J. Trump left office. Mr. Ryan was criticized for what some in the company saw as a stultified business culture and frequently clashed with newsroom leaders. He also presided over an exodus of talent in the past two years, including top-tier executives and high-profile journalists.

Ms. Stonesifer, a longtime friend of Mr. Bezos, agreed to step in as an interim leader after Mr. Ryan departed this year. She said in her email that she had worked with the senior leadership team over the past two months to review the company’s business and financial results, leading to the decision to offer buyouts “in the hopes of averting more difficult decisions such as layoffs.”

She said employees would be notified this week if they were eligible for a package and were free to decline the offer.

The Post has been searching for a permanent chief executive and publisher. The search is down to a final five candidates, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified discussing private conversations.

Leaders of The Washington Post Guild blasted the company in a statement on Tuesday.

“Hard-working Post employees are going to lose their jobs because of a litany of poor business decisions at the top of our company,” the statement said. “We cannot comprehend how The Post, owned by one of the richest people in the world, has decided to foist the consequences of its incoherent business plan and irresponsibly rapid expansion onto the hardworking people who make this company run.”

In January, The Post laid off 20 journalists and froze hiring on 30 open jobs. It shut down its online gaming vertical, Launcher, as well as KidsPost, its section for children. A number of other media companies have laid off at least 7 percent of their staff this year, including The Los Angeles Times, Vox Media and NPR.

Katie Robertson covers the media industry for The Times.

Speak Your Mind