The Washington Post lays off 20 editorial staff

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The Washington Post laid off 20 employees on Tuesday, the latest in a series of media and technology companies to cut jobs in the face of a tough economic climate and a continued decline in ad revenue and readership.

In addition to eliminating those 20 positions, the company will also keep another 30 positions vacant, a smaller number than many had expected. In mid-December, publisher Fred Ryan told staff that the company would cut a “single-digit percentage” of its 2,500 employees because it “cannot continue to invest resources in initiatives that do not meet to the needs of our customers”.

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

In a memo to staff on Tuesday afternoon, editor Sally Buzbee wrote that “we do not anticipate any further job cuts at this time.” She also said newsroom executives tried to prioritize eliminating job vacancies over firing workers.

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

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

As news of the layoffs spread among postal workers on Tuesday, the Washington Post Guild sent a message to its members saying that “we believe that any job cuts at this time – in a time of growth and continued expansion – is unacceptable”.

The job cuts at La Poste punctuated a period of internal tensions and turnover. Several senior executives and high-level staff left for rival publications. In November, the company abruptly announced the closure 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 experienced a decline in digital subscribers, a drop that has prompted senior management to review its strategic goals and ambitious expansion plans. The employees’ union saw a record number of recruits, a rise fueled in part by staff discontent.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of The Post, has recently been brought in to become more directly involved in publishing. He visited Post headquarters last week and held meetings with senior executives, including Ryan and editor Sally Buzbee, as well as some newsroom staff. He attended an early morning press meeting, after which an employee approached him about the layoffs. He replied that he was there to listen, not to answer questions. But he added, “I’m engaged,” according to the employee. “Believe me, I’m engaged.”

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

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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