The Washington Post is the latest media company to announce layoffs as the industry grapples with a softening ad market.
Publisher Fred Ryan said at a company town hall on Thursday that the layoffs would take place in the first quarter, but did not specify an exact figure, according to a staffer who was there. Kathy Baird, chief communications officer at the Post, said in a statement that they anticipate that the layoffs “will be a single digit percentage of our employee base” and that the plans would be finalized in the coming weeks. She also said that it would not be a “net reduction in Post headcount,” as investments in other areas.
“The Washington Post is evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth,” Baird said. “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.”
The Post is privately owned by Jeff Bezos, founder and executive chairman of Amazon. The company recently announced that it was shuttering its weekly magazine and eliminating those staff positions.
The Washington Post Guild posted video on its Twitter account of Ryan being pressed by staffers for more details, including what will happen to staffers whose positions are eliminated. “We will have more information as we move forward,” Ryan said. The guild had tweeted out a series of questions that it wanted answered at the town hall, noting that cuts also were made in the features department, “home to our award-winning and highly read culture and arts journalism. Is this a sign that WaPo is divesting from this coverage area?” The New York Times reported last summer that the Post digital subscriptions had stalled after reaching 3 million in 2020.
A number of other media outlets have been making staff cuts, including Gannett, who went through another round of layoffs earlier this month after eliminating about 400 employees during the summer. CNN laid off several hundred employees last month and scaled back its HLN channel as well as its Original Series and Films units. NPR announced a hiring freeze to make up for a budget shortfall.