The publisher of The Washington Post announced layoffs this week as a video showed reporters angrily asking questions during a town hall event, coming after the paper announced it would shut down its magazine.
Publisher Fred Ryan appeared at a town hall event on Wednesday, according to an apparent staffer’s video footage that was published online.
According to The Washington Post, Ryan said that there will be a “single-digit percentage” worth of job cuts but did not detail the exact numbers. Currently, the newspaper employs around 2,500 people.
Today, we came into WaPo’s so-called town hall with questions about recent layoffs and the future of the company.
Our publisher dropped a bombshell on us by announcing more layoffs and then walking out, refusing to answer any of our questions. pic.twitter.com/ajNZsZKOBr
— Washington Post Guild (@PostGuild) December 14, 2022
Ryan told staffers in an email that the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper’s plans to slash jobs “in no way signals that we are scaling back our ambitions.” But, he stressed, “like any business, The Post cannot keep investing resources in initiatives that do not meet our customers’ needs.”
The video appeared to show Ryan walking out of the town hall event as dozens of Washington Post employees asked him questions about the job cuts. The Post’s report on the layoffs confirmed he walked out of the meeting.
“What are you doing to protect people’s jobs?” asked one person. “Are they going to be treated like the magazine staffers were?”
Ryan responded by saying that “we’ll have more information as we move forward,” adding: “Thank you very much.” Ryan then walked out of the room as another staffer said that “you seem to be disrespecting this room” before the clip was cut off, according to another video uploaded by the Washington Post Guild.
The Guild’s video gave another vantage point of the chaos, showing staffers yelling over each other while asking Ryan questions. “This is embarrassing,” one woman exclaimed as Ryan left the room.
During the meeting, Ryan cited the U.S. economic situation and noted that firms dependent on advertising, such as newspapers and websites, are suffering, according to the Post’s report. Several other media outlets initiated layoffs in recent weeks amid declining revenue from advertisements, inflation, and fears of a recession.
Media and entertainment firms that recently started conducting layoffs include Facebook parent Meta, Twitter, Roku, Gannett, Disney, Warner Bros., Comcast, Paramount, CNN, ABC, and more, according to reports.
Meta, for example, laid off about 11,000 people, or 13 percent of its workforce, following a November announcement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And Gannett, which owns USA Today, cut about 6 percent of its workforce, or 3,440 employees.
A spokesperson for the post told news outlets that the newspaper is “evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth” and will “direct our resources and invest in coverage, products, and people in service of providing high value to our subscribers and new audiences.”
“This will not be a net reduction in Post headcount,” the statement said. “Recently, we have made some of the largest investments in The Post’s history and 2023 will be another year of continued investment.”
But the Washington Post Guild, the paper’s union, said its members were “outraged at the unceremonious announcement” of job cuts and panned Ryan for not answering questions.
“This behavior is unacceptable from any leader, but especially the leader of a news organization whose core values include transparency and accountability,” the Guild said in a statement to news outlets. “There is no justification for The Post to lay off employees in a period of record growth and hiring.”
Some commentators cheered the layoffs and said they were caused by Washington Post staffers’ political biases.
“When a media edifice chooses to cater to a tiny percentage of the population, many of them younger zennials with little to no money, it is only a matter of time before they face a profit collapse,” wrote libertarian-leaning financial website ZeroHedge. “The Washington Post is a victim of its own elitist ideology, and many of the employees are just as guilty as the leadership. Get woke, go broke.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the Washington Post’s corporate office for comment.