In a contentious meeting, reporters at The Washington Post pressed for answers regarding the major job cuts that were announced during a recent one-hour meeting with top executives.
The publication revealed its plan to eliminate roughly 240 positions across the organization as part of its strategy to address challenges associated with digital subscriptions and advertising.
Patty Stonesifer, serving as the interim chief executive officer, communicated this decision in a companywide email. The aim is to achieve these workforce reductions primarily through voluntary buyouts, which will be offered to staff members in the coming week.
The Washington Post, a newspaper with a total workforce of about 2,600 employees, including over 1,000 in its newsroom, has yet to specify how many jobs in the newsroom will be impacted by these cuts.
In her email, Ms. Stonesifer acknowledged that their prior projections for traffic, subscriptions, and advertising growth over the last two years, extending into 2024, were overly optimistic.
She emphasized the urgent need to invest in the company's top growth priorities, which necessitated the difficult decision to adjust their cost structure.
One critical factor contributing to this decision was the decline in the number of subscriptions at The Washington Post in recent years, with the current count standing at approximately 2.5 million subscribers, down from a high of three million subscribers at the end of 2020.
Furthermore, The Post, like many in the news industry, has been grappling with the challenges posed by the industrywide drop in digital advertising.
Mr. Bezos, who acquired the newspaper for $250 million in 2013, has publicly expressed his desire to see the publication turn profitable.
The departure of Fred Ryan, the long-serving chief executive and publisher, in June has left a substantial impact on the company.
Mr. Ryan, who joined The Post in 2014, presided over significant growth in the company during his initial five years in leadership.
However, like other news organizations, The Post faced a decline in subscribers after the departure of former President Donald J. Trump. Some viewed Mr. Ryan as responsible for fostering a stagnant business culture and noted frequent clashes with newsroom leaders.
His tenure also witnessed an exodus of top talent, including executives and high-profile journalists.
Ms. Stonesifer, a close associate of Mr. Bezos, took on the role of interim leader after Mr. Ryan's exit. She highlighted her efforts with the senior leadership team to scrutinize the company's business and financial results over the past two months, leading to the decision to offer buyouts
"in the hopes of averting more difficult decisions such as layoffs."
The quest for a permanent chief executive and publisher for The Washington Post continues, with the search reportedly narrowed down to a final five candidates.
Leaders of The Washington Post Guild expressed their concerns in a statement, attributing the job cuts to a series of poor business decisions at the company's top leadership.
They voiced their frustration regarding the consequences being borne by the hardworking staff.
In January, The Washington Post already laid off 20 journalists and froze hiring for 30 open positions. They also discontinued their online gaming vertical, Launcher, and KidsPost, the section for children.
Notably, several other media companies have also reduced their staff by at least 7 percent this year, including The Los Angeles Times, Vox Media, and NPR.