Hard times have arrived at The Washington Post.
In a memo circulated among the paper’s staff and obtained by Semafor media reporter Max Tani, company CEO Patty Stonesifer warned that although 120 employees have already accepted buyout packages, a further 120 must agree to do so, or they will be forced to “implement involuntary layoffs.”
“As promised, I will continue to provide updates on the voluntary separation package and where we stand in the process,” Stonesifer wrote. “As of today, 120 employees have accepted the package.”
“We now have just under two weeks before the December 11 deadline for non-union employees and two and a half weeks before the December 15 deadline for Guild-covered employees,” she continued.
In a memo to staff, Washington Post CEO Patty Stonesifer says 120 employees have accepted buyout packages. If the paper doesn’t find another 120 people who will accept buyouts in the next two weeks, it will implement layoffs. pic.twitter.com/ztdZwVz5WD
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) November 28, 2023
Stonesifer went on to explain that although it was a “challenging time” for the company, the decision had been taken to “restore The Post’s financial health.”
“We have made the decision, if we fall short of this goal, to implement involuntary layoffs in those areas where we have already identified that positions do not need to be replaced, where work can be reassigned more efficiently or where we can otherwise achieve cost savings,” she wrote.
“These layoffs would offer significantly less generous benefits than the voluntary package and will be consistent with prior layoff packages at The Post,” she continued.
The decision to lay off hundreds of workers was first announced last month and led to a furious reaction from the Washington News Guild.
In a statement, the Guild pointed out how the company was owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who they identified as “one of the richest people in the world.”
“We are infuriated about this decision and concerned for our dedicated, brilliant colleagues,” the Guild wrote at the time. “Today’s announcement comes after at least 38 people were laid off over the last year.
“Hard-working Post employees are going to lose their jobs because of a litany of poor business decisions at the top of our company,” it continued.
“We cannot comprehend how The Post, owned by one of the richest people in the world, has decided to foist the consequences of its incoherent business plan and irresponsibly rapid expansion onto the hardworking people who make this company run.”
We cannot comprehend how The Post, owned by one of the richest people in the world, has decided to foist the consequences of its incoherent business plan and irresponsibly rapid expansion onto the hardworking people who make this company run.
— Washington Post Guild (@PostGuild) October 10, 2023
Media reports have provided a range of explanations for the company’s poor financial health. An article by The New York Times in July cited sources within the company as saying that the Post is expected to lose around $100 million in 2023.
Reasons for this included a decline in ad revenue, as well as a fall in digital subscribers, which have reportedly fallen from 3 million in 2020 to 2.5 million as of this year.
Meanwhile, declining newspaper circulation continues to affect vast swathes of the legacy media industry.
According to recent data from Pew Research, in 2022 the “estimated total U.S. daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) was 20.9 million for both weekday and Sunday, down 8 percent and 10 percent respectively from 2021.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.