The Washington Post began firing staffers Tuesday as the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet suffers declines in advertising revenue and readership, the paper announced.
The company is expected to lay off 20 journalists and not fill another 30 vacancies, leading to a sigh of relief from those at the venerable paper who were fearing a more major blood-letting.
The culling of the 2,500-person staff comes weeks after publisher Fred Ryan announced the impending layoffs. Ryan vowed Tuesday the paper’s head count will remain the same or higher by the end of 2023, the outlet reported.
The Washington Post Guild, the union representing staffers, blasted the layoffs.
“We believe any job eliminations right now — at a time of continued growth and expansion — are unacceptable,” the guild wrote in a message to its members.
Last week, Bezos paid a rare visit to the newsroom to meet with top editorial staff amid ramped-up speculation — first reported by The New York Post — the Amazon founder is looking to clear the way for a purchase of the NFL’s Washington Commanders by selling The Washington Post.
Since Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, the newspaper has turned a profit every year. But the subscription boom that the newspaper enjoyed during the Trump years has faded and revenue fell in 2021, according to The New York Times.
During Bezos’ appearance at the newspaper’s offices, guild members accosted him and demanded answers about reports of the impending layoffs.
Bezos sat next to embattled executive editor Sally Buzbee during the meeting, which was attended by a mix of in-person employees as well as those dialing in on Zoom.
“I’m delighted to be here and see all of these faces,” Bezos reportedly said during the meeting. “Thanks for letting me listen in.”
Ryan was also in attendance, though he did not speak. The meeting featured the traditional rundown of news stories pitched by editors at the paper.
With Bezos in the room, editors discussed writing up a story about Amazon’s decision to shut down its in-house charity program, AmazonSmile, which was founded by Bezos himself, according to The New York Times.
Washington Post editors also pitched a news story about the ongoing discussions surrounding the sale of the Commanders — a team that Bezos reportedly has his eyes on.