Washington Post chief announces job cuts – and refuses to answer questions – The Guardian

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Jobs

Washington Post chief announces job cuts – and refuses to answer questionsPublisher Fred Ryan described as ‘embarrassing’ after walking out of meeting following revelation that up to 250 jobs could be lost Fred Ryan, the Washington Post publisher and chief executive. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesFred Ryan, the Washington Post publisher and chief executive. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesTurmoil at the Washington Post has intensified after a contentious town hall meeting on Wednesday in which the newspaper’s publisher, Fred Ryan, astounded staffers by announcing substantial job cuts to come, then quit the meeting, refusing to answer questions.Emma Tucker to become first female editor-in-chief of the Wall Street JournalRead more“This is embarrassing, this is embarrassing,” one staffer was heard saying as Ryan made his hasty exit, according to video footage posted on social media.Ryan dropped his “bombshell announcing more layoffs”, as the newspaper’s Guild union described it, at the end of a meeting intended for discussion of future editorial plans.Instead, it descended into a tetchy confrontation between the publisher, who said he would not allow the meeting to be turned into “a grievance session for the Guild”, and staffers audibly protesting that he was “disrespecting this room”.Ryan said there would be moves to eliminate a single-digit percentage of the Post workforce in 2023. Though no exact figures were given, that would equate to up to 250 jobs across the paper.Some of those jobs, Ryan made clear, would be in the more than 1,000-strong newsroom, the hub of the paper with its storied legacy of Pulitzer prizes. In a statement after the meeting, management stressed there would be no net reduction in staff numbers, with changes designed to “put our business in the best position for future growth”.Today, we came into WaPo’s so-called town hall with questions about recent layoffs and the future of the company. Our publisher dropped a bombshell on us by announcing more layoffs and then walking out, refusing to answer any of our questions. pic.twitter.com/ajNZsZKOBr— Washington Post Guild (@PostGuild) December 14, 2022
The clash adds to a growing sense of disarray at the legendary paper of Watergate. The executive editor, Sally Buzbee, recently announced the closure of the Post’s Sunday print magazine, the last edition due to appear on 25 December.The move came with 11 job losses: 10 at the magazine and a further elimination of the job of the paper’s Pulitzer-prize winning dance critic, Sarah Kaufman.There has been a sense of gathering change among senior positions. Buzbee, the former executive editor of Associated Press, was made the Post’s top editor last year, replacing the hugely popular Marty Baron, who stepped down after almost a decade.Several top-level managers have left the company in recent months, including a managing editor, the chief information officer and chief communications officer.The Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the executive chairman of Amazon and one of the wealthiest people in the world. He bought the paper in 2013 for $250m, saying his goal was to achieve a “new golden era at the Post” in which he would offer “advice from a distance”.Under Bezos, the paper initially blossomed, taking on a more national profile and publishing an impressive succession of scoops that turned it into a must-read of the Donald Trump era. More recently it has struggled to keep up its base of paid digital subscribers, which now stands at fewer than 3 million, compared with more than 10 million for the New York Times.Bezos brought in Ryan as publisher and chief executive shortly after buying the title. A former White House chief of staff, for Ronald Reagan, Ryan was involved in the early days of the Beltway news site Politico.Like many news organisations, the Post has been hit by declining advertising revenue. Signs of distress in the volatile economic climate have been seen at CNN, which announced hundreds of job cuts earlier this month, and at the public radio network NPR, which has imposed a hiring freeze as it seeks to shave $10m from next year’s budget.Last week, the New York Times saw its first employee walkout in 40 years, in an ongoing dispute over a new contract and staff wages.TopicsWashington PostUS press and publishingNewspapersJeff BezosNewspapers & magazinesnewsReuse this content …

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