Last month Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan told employees that layoffs were imminent. On Tuesday the company began to institute them. The Post eliminated 20 newsroom positions and won’t fill 30 open jobs, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee told staffers in a memo.
Management, Buzbee says, “prioritized the elimination of vacancies to minimize the impact on employees” and also decided to eliminate “currently filled positions we concluded are not essential to serving our competitive needs.” Among those non-essentially competitive budget lines are KidsPost and the Post’s video game and esports vertical, Launcher, which it began in 2019. The Post’s PR operation has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The Post’s union, however, had plenty to say: “we believe any job eliminations right now are unacceptable,” it says in a statement. “The number should be zero.” Management, the union contends, has provided “no clear explanation for why the layoffs are happening” and believes the layoffs “are not financially necessary or rooted in any coherent business plan from Fred Ryan, who said at the same town hall that he expects the company to be larger a year from now.”
The Post shuttered its Sunday magazine in November and laid off its dance critic. Despite the layoffs, the Post sent a “Welcome to The Post” email to all staffers Tuesday regarding three recent hires.
Here’s Buzbee’s memo:
I want to let everyone know we have completed the review of newsroom positions announced at the December town hall and provide you with an update on the actions we have taken today. We have made the difficult decision to eliminate 20 current newsroom positions, and we have reached out to those employees. In addition, we have identified 30 open positions we will not fill.
Newsroom leaders made these decisions after a thoughtful and deliberate review of our current roles and vacant positions. We prioritized the elimination of vacancies to minimize the impact on employees. We are also eliminating currently filled positions we concluded are not essential to serving our competitive needs. All employees impacted by these changes are eligible to apply for posted positions, and the Newsroom’s recruiting team will reach out to each one to discuss this process and help identify available roles. We are also offering a separation incentive program to these employees that includes severance and continued health insurance coverage.
While such changes are not easy, evolution is necessary for us to stay competitive, and the economic climate has guided our decision to act now. We believe these steps will ultimately help us to fulfill our mission to scrutinize power and empower readers. We are not planning further job eliminations at this time.
I know this news is difficult. Our decision to eliminate these positions was not an easy one, and we respect and appreciate the journalists affected by the changes. We value their commitment to The Post and I am grateful for the many contributions they have made to our journalism.
If you have any questions, managers and I will be available. We will do our best to support everyone through this process.
This post will be updated.