Masked Washington Post Staffers Outraged After Publisher Announces Layoffs

After the Washington Post lost nearly half a million subscribers since President Joe Biden took office, the outlet has officially announced that layoffs will begin in early 2023 — and staffers were not pleased to hear the news.

During a town hall event for employees, Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan announced that a “number of positions” would be terminated in early 2023 — then refused to allow any opportunities for staffers to ask clarifying questions regarding the layoffs.

“We’re not going to turn the town hall into a grievance session,” the publisher told the audience, according to a video tweeted by Post reporter Annie Gowen.

A few outraged staffers, clad in COVID masks, stood up and demanded he take questions.

“It’s not a grievance session, it’s questions,” one staffer replied.

“We’ll have more information as we move forward. Thank you very much,” Ryan said, before quickly turning around and walking away from the crowd. As he was leaving, one staffer reportedly accused him of “disrespecting this process.”

Shortly after the video was uploaded to Twitter, Washington Post chief communications officer Kathy Baird confirmed that the outlet plans to cut a “single-digit percentage” of its workforce in 2023.

The Washington Post is evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth,” Baird said in a statement to Fox News. “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. As a result, a number of positions will be eliminated.”

“We anticipate it will be a single-digit percentage of our employee base, and we will finalize those plans over the coming weeks,” the statement continued. “This will not be a net reduction in Post headcount. Recently, we have made some of the largest investments in The Post’s history and 2023 will be another year of continued investment.”

Meanwhile, in a separate statement to Fox News, the Washington Post Guild criticized Ryan for refusing to answer the staffers’ questions regarding the layoffs, calling his actions “unacceptable.”

“Members of the Washington Post Guild are outraged at the unceremonious announcement of layoffs at today’s so-called town hall led by our publisher, Fred Ryan,” the Guild’s statement read. “After informing staffers that the company could eliminate up to 9 percent of positions companywide in the first quarter of next year, Ryan refused to take questions from his employees and walked out of the room. This behavior is unacceptable from any leader, but especially the leader of a news organization whose core values include transparency and accountability.”

The Washington Post’s potential layoffs come after the outlet announced plans to eliminate its Sunday magazine last month, which resulted in 10 staffers losing their jobs.

Despite Baird’s claims that the outlet had “made some of the largest investments in The Post’s history,” the Washington Post has been struggling to maintain its subscriber base over the past few years.

Since Biden took office, the outlet lost roughly 20% of its subscribers. The Washington Post currently has around 2.5 million subscribers, which is down 500,000 from the three million they had in January 2021.

Conservatives took to Twitter to mock the outlet after the video went viral, with many pointing out that the Washington Post could have prevented this outcome by “doing actual journalism” rather than “activism” or pushing left-wing narratives.

“They could have protected their own jobs by doing actual journalism instead of activism. Ah well, they can always learn to code,” wrote Christina Pushaw, rapid response director for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I can’t feel sorry for anyone who cheered for people to lose their jobs over insane policies like lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Unfortunately, many Washington Post journalists spent the last 3 years doing that. What goes around comes around,” she added in a follow-up tweet.

“These are the same people that told coal miners and pipeline workers to start selling solar panels. I have ZERO sympathy for them,” said another Twitter user.

“I guess writing hit pieces about @elonmusk and ignoring real news like the twitter drops doesn’t pay the bills,” another Twitter user replied.

“The best part of this is that they are still wearing masks. What a metaphor” tweeted Bonchie, a writer for Red State.

Podcast host and commentator Tim Pool simply shared a zoomed-in screenshot of one of the Washington Post staffers from the town hall, showing her in her mask, as a response.