The Washington Post is expected to execute more layoffs in the new year after suffering a massive loss of subscribers in 2022.
Publisher Fred Ryan announced the dismissals at a company town hall Wednesday. The layoffs will happen in the first quarter of 2023 and will make up a “single-digit percentage” of the current staff, Ryan said, without specifying the number of employees who would be terminated.
Washington Post national correspondent Annie Gowen reported that Ryan darted out of the room without taking questions from staff after he broke the bad news.
“You talked about the positions getting eliminated. What are you going to do to protect people’s jobs? Are they going to be treated like the magazine staffers were?,” one staff member chimed.
“We’ll have more information as we move forward,” Ryan replied before exiting. Staff in attendance appeared very angry at the leader’s disregard for their concerns. One woman employee accused him of being disrespectful.
Roughly half-a-million readers have canceled their Post subscriptions since last January, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paper does not project it will be profitable in 2022. In November, the Post disclosed that its Sunday magazine was folding, with the last issue to be published on Christmas Day. The magazine’s ten staff members were suddenly notified in a meeting that the company would be letting them go.
The Washington Post Guild – a union representing 1,000 of the paper’s employees — said it was “outraged” by the move.
“Post management has signaled that the magazine is being cut for financial reasons. But there is no economic justification for layoffs in a year when The Post has hired a record number of new employees. It’s unconscionable that The Post would not retain these dedicated employees so they can continue to serve readers through other jobs at the company,” the Post Guild said in a statement obtained by NBCWashington.
It was reported in August that the Post was considering laying off around 10 percent of its newsroom in response to plummeting profits. Ryan was reportedly deliberating slashing 100 roles and/or conducting hiring freezes after ad revenue in the first half of 2022 dropped 15 percent compared to last year, several sources told the New York Times. However, a spokesman for the Post dispelled the allegations, claiming the paper would actually be expanding rather than contracting in the new year- assurance which turned out to be empty.
The layoff news comes after hundreds of New York Times employees walked out last week after contract negotiations between the Times Guild and management broke down. The Times Guild updated Wednesday that it returned to the negotiating table for the first time since the demonstration, alleging that the company “came completely unprepared to have the discussion.” The union has reportedly refused to budge on its demands, including a 10 percent salary bump, an increase in the minimum pay level for new employees, increased company contributions to the health-insurance fund, and paid parental leave.
“The ball — along with nearly all of the open proposals — is in management’s court. If after 20 months they aren’t willing to give us a comprehensive wage package, we will continue to stand up to management’s unacceptable delaying tactics,” the union tweeted.