Technology companies aren’t the only ones to feel the sting of layoffs this holiday season. Several weeks ago, the Washington Post said the company would discontinue their weekly Sunday magazine – The Washington Post Magazine – and lay off 10 newsroom employees. The magazine’s last issue will publish on Christmas Day. The same day Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman was also laid off. These are not the only layoffs planned, however.
Last week, publisher and CEO Fredrick J. Ryan, Jr. announced at an all-employee town hall that more cuts are coming, probably in the “single-digit percentage” range in the first quarter of 2023. The Washington Post, which is owned by billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has about 2,500 employees. Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2023 for $250 million, reports Geekwire.
A 1% workforce reduction would be 25 employees; a 9% cut would be 225 employees. Ryan said this is a difficult time economically, especially for companies like the Washington Post that rely on advertising income. More details about the job cuts and who will be impacted will be released in the coming weeks.
On the plus side, however, Ryan said the company will add new jobs that offset some of the job losses in areas that are “no longer serving readers.” Eventually, he believes it will balance out and the company’s headcount will be about the same, though is little comfort to the employees who will lose their jobs. In a company email, Ryan said the company is not scaling back its plans. Instead, they are rebalancing their efforts to ensure their investments are aligned with their strategies and goals.
“The Washington Post is evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth. 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,” said Kathy Baird, chief communications officer for The Washington Post, in an emailed statement.
Annie Gowen, a national correspondent for The Washington Post, shared a 25-second video, taken by a colleague, of end of the meeting where staff had questions. Ryan didn’t answer.
Poynter, who covers the media closely, said other large media organizations have also announced employee cuts, including CNN, Gannett in yet another round of job eliminations, BuzzFeed who will cut 12% of employees, and Outside Media who is also laying off 12% of staff.
The layoffs keep coming, and each is as painful as the last. During the pandemic, tech companies and media organizations thrived, and many staffed up to meet the growing demand. With an unpredictable economy, those same companies – many working from an SaaS, membership or subscription model – are getting hit hard, and they are having to “right size” their operations at the expense of hard-working, dedicated employees. Whole strategies, like subscription newsletters, are not producing as expected, and their organizations are abandoning them as quickly as they launched them. This is tragic. Right now, taking risks has proven costly, and we expect to see more of this in 2023. Which strategies do you think will succeed and which will fail in the New Year?