Footage of employees at The Washington Post lambasting company leadership over pending layoffs surfaced online as executives plan to reconfigure the paper’s operations.
The outlet will conduct targeted layoffs constituting a single-digit percentage of the overall workforce beginning next year, Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan informed employees at a heated town hall meeting on Wednesday, according to a report from CNN. He told staff that the company cannot “keep spending on initiatives that no longer align with readers’ interests.”
A video from the meeting posted by Washington Post Correspondent Annie Gowen showed multiple employees shouting questions at Ryan and complaining about the upcoming job losses. “We are not going to turn a town hall into a grievance session,” the executive responded.
NEW: @washingtonpost publisher Fred Ryan refuses to take staff questions after announcing Q1 layoffs in “Town Hall” @postguild pic.twitter.com/C4HOXb6y2C
— Annie Gowen (@anniegowen) December 14, 2022
Washington Post Chief Communications Officer Kathy Baird confirmed to CNN that the outlet will cut positions next year. “We are planning to direct our resources and invest in coverage, products, and people in service of providing high value to our subscribers and new audiences,” she said. “As a result, a number of positions will be eliminated. We anticipate it will be a single digit percentage of our employee base, and we will finalize those plans over the coming weeks.”
The paper could even increase headcount as the company emphasizes high-growth verticals. The Washington Post Guild nevertheless lambasted Ryan and other managers for dismissing features and magazine employees without offering them “jobs elsewhere in the newsroom.” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased the outlet for $250 million in 2013 and named Ryan, a former senior adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan, as chief executive and publisher.
The Washington Post will nix its standalone Sunday print magazine this month as part of the “global and digital transformation,” according to a message to staffers. The 10 employees who ran the publication were told last month in a meeting that their positions had been eliminated.
Following years of profitability, The Washington Post is on track to lose money as revenue from digital advertising in the first half of the year fell to $70 million, marking a 15% decline from the same period last year, according to a report from The New York Times.
Entertainment and media companies have dismissed substantial portions of their payrolls in recent months as macroeconomic tensions persist. Gannett, a media conglomerate that owns more than 250 local news outlets, announced that executives would begin “necessary but painful reductions to staffing” while eliminating some open positions.
CNN CEO Christ Licht likewise initiated hundreds of layoffs earlier this month and ended live programming on cable channel HLN. In a memo to employees, Licht said that the goal of the strategic review that led to the dismissals was to “better align our people, processes and resources with our future priorities, strengthen our ability to deliver on CNN’s core journalistic mission and enable us to innovate in the years ahead.”
The layoffs in the media industry occur as investors criticize large companies, especially in the technology space, for maintaining bloated payrolls. Many financiers took note as Twitter CEO Elon Musk reduced the social media company’s headcount by two-thirds with no salient impact on the social media platform’s performance.