News & Politics

“We Have Nothing in the Cupboard”: Washington Post Manager Begs for Content Ahead of Strike

If there's "anything that even whiffs of news - do it," an email says.

Photograph by Evy Mages .

Washington Post management intends to continue to put out a newspaper while around 750 members of the publication’s staff go on a 24-hour strike on Thursday. But that doesn’t sound like it will be easy, at least according to an email sent around by one section head Monday:


This is the first time I have typed these words in my life: The bar is low.

We have nothing in the cupboard. And it’s kinda like Thanksgiving week in that people are walking out on Thursday, making the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday reports, umm…difficult.

If there is a sentencing, a bill introduction, an appointment — anything that even whiffs of news – do it. I’m serious. We need to hoard.

Thanks for understanding.

Friday’s paper may be smaller in some sections, and there’s talk of pulling bylines on stories that appear—a practice that has been available to Post reporters for decades. “Reporters have the right to withhold their bylines,” Patricia Dunn, then the Post’s VP of labor and now a partner at Jones Day, which represents the Post in negotiations with the Post Guild, said in 2002 during a one-day byline strike.

On a call with reporters Tuesday, Guild leaders said they expected all of the paper’s designers and all of the Guild members on the local desk to be among those who walk out. “I will be very interested to see how they cover the amount of ground that will be lost,” one said. About two thirds of the striking staffers will be in DC, they said, and there will be smaller groups outside bureaus in New York and San Francisco. According to Guild leaders, there’s no plan for an open-ended strike after this one ends.

The Post has not yet returned a Washingtonian request for comment. On Wednesday, interim CEO Patty Stonesifer sent an email to staffers stating, “We respect the rights of our colleagues to engage in this action … During this strike, we will make sure our readers and customers are as unaffected as possible.”

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.