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The Washington Post began to lay off some 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.
The company is eliminating 20 positions and not filling another 30 vacancies, 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.”
Meanwhile, the company will continue to hire new personnel in other roles, and Ryan has said that 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 expand its coverage in areas that provide “high value to our subscribers and new audiences,” a Post spokeswoman previously said. “Senior newsroom editors with knowledge of The Post’s goals and strategy are carefully evaluating each role to determine its impact to the readers.”
As news of the layoffs spread among Post staffers, 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.”
A spokeswoman for The Washington Post did not immediately reply to emails requesting comment Tuesday morning.
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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