In a town hall on Wednesday, Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan announced that under 10% of the staff would be terminated; shortly after, he stormed off, unable to answer questions. According to Ryan, the newsroom cuts will likely occur in the first quarter of 2023.
Two weeks ago, the paper announced it scrapped its stand-alone Sunday print magazine and fired 10 journalists and a dance critic.
According to Ryan, the layoffs will likely amount to a “single-digit percentage,” but those whose jobs no longer serve readers might find new opportunities elsewhere. “For those people whose positions will be eliminated, this will be a difficult time,” Ryan explained.
The CEO started heading for the exit when employees yelled out concerns and questions. Ryan clearly wasn’t interested in talking, saying, “We’re not going to turn the town hall into a grievance session.”
“Fred, you talked about positions getting eliminated. What are you going to do to protect people’s jobs? Are they going to be treated like the magazine staffers were?” a staffer asked, referring to the abrupt firings of the Sunday print staff. “We’ll have more information as we move forward,” answered Ryan as he moved forward and out the door.
At the end of the event, publisher Fred Ryan announced a “single-digit decrease” in the workforce in Q1 of 2023.
In the same breath, Ryan said The Post will continue to grow. He didn’t say whether those laid off would be offered the chance to be rehired or reassigned.
— Washington Post Guild (@PostGuild) December 14, 2022
A subsequent statement by the paper’s guild said the behavior displayed at the town hall meeting was unacceptable from any leader, but especially from a leader of a news organization. In a tweet, the guild said it wouldn’t allow Ryan to turn his back “on workers with urgent questions and valid concerns.” “Washington Post employees … must be part of any transformation to this company. Stay tuned,” wrote the guild.
Axios indicated the paper — whose slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness” — will not turn a profit this year but will manage to stay afloat. About 2,500 people work at The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos bought for $250 million in 2013. In Ryan’s time as CEO, the paper’s newsroom doubled in size and now has more than 1,000 employees.