‘Not going to turn this … into a grievance session’: Washington Post CEO confirms newsroom layoffs in tense meeting, then bolts

News & Politics

The chief executive of Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post held a town hall on Wednesday, informing panicked staff that under ten percent of the workforce would be getting the boot.

Fred Ryan, the paper’s CEO and publisher, noted that the the cuts, which will likely affect the newsroom, will take place in the first quarter of 2023.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the paper revealed it would be scrapping its stand-alone Sunday print magazine and ousting 10 newsroom employees plus a dance critic, citing “economic head winds.”

What are the details?

Ryan said in a company-wide meeting Wednesday that the coming layoffs will likely amount to a “single-digit percentage,” but provided hope to those in positions “no longer serving readers” that they might take refuge in new roles.

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“For those people whose positions will be eliminated, this will be a difficult time,” Ryan suggested.

The paper’s chief communications officer, Kathy Baird, later stated there would not, however, be a “net reduction in Post head count,” reported Deadline.

When the CEO began angling for the exit, staff yelled out concerns and questions.

Ryan made it clear he had no intention of engaging, 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?” asked one employee, referencing the abrupt firing of the Sunday print magazine’s employees.

“We’ll have more information as we move forward,” answered Ryan, as he moved forward and out the door.

In a subsequent statement, the paper’s guild said, “This behavior is unacceptable from any leader, but especially the leader of a news organization whose core values include transparency and accountability.”

The guild, whose Twitter banner image demands a “Diverse, Inclusive & Fair Washington Post,” tweeted that its members “won’t let” Ryan “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.

While Axios indicated the paper — whose slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness” — is not expected to turn a profit this year, it will still manage to keep the lights on.

Baird added in her statement, “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.”

The Washington Post, bought for $250 million by Bezos in 2013, has approximately 2,500 employees.

According to Axios, the paper’s newsroom doubled in size during Ryan’s time as CEO and now exceeds 1,000 employees.

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