The Washington Post is on track to lose money in 2022 following years of profitability and is considering eliminating as many as 100 positions, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Publisher Fred Ryan has had discussions with leadership at the paper about reducing head count from the current newsroom staff of roughly 1,000 employees, individuals with knowledge of the talks told The Times, through “hiring freezes for open jobs or other ways.”
The budget-tightening is a reflection of a dramatic downturn in the paper’s finances — following a period of reinvestment and grown since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the paper in 2013 — that has been shared by many news outlets, especially since Donald Trump left the White House.
According to the Times, The Post’s digital ad revenue dropped to around $70 million during the first half of 2022, close to 15% lower than the paper earned in the first half of 2021. Worse, insiders told the Times that the Post has dropped below the 3 million paid digital subscribers that it had celebrated internally at the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, top competitors like the Times and the Wall Street Journal have grown their digital subscription bases in the last year and a half.
A rep for the Washington Post did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a spokesperson told the Times that the company was “not reducing head count, and instead would be adding steadily to the newsroom and ‘exploring positions that should be repurposed to serve a larger, national and global audience.'”
Editor Sally Buzbee, who co-leads an initiative to reach 5 million total digital subscribers by 2025, told The Times that the organization was adding 150 positions.
Ryan has also expressed concern about office attendance in the newsroom and a lack of productivity from some journalists, the Times reported, with insiders saying that he scrapped a plan to send disciplinary letters to employees who have not returned even once to the paper’s newsroom this year and instead called the staffers in question personally.
While the organization’s policy currently asks staffers to come into the office at least three days a week, some journalists who reported on the COVID-19 pandemic showed dissatisfaction with this policy. “Such decisions are extremely personal and consequential, and we urge management to allow employees to make these decisions without fear of punishment from their employer,” the staffers wrote earlier this month in a letter to Ryan that was obtained by the Times.