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The Washington Post announces more job cuts next year

The announcement comes amid a season of layoffs throughout the media industry and weeks after the paper said it will eliminate its stand-alone magazine

The Washington Post headquarters in downtown D.C. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post will continue to eliminate jobs early next year, Publisher Fred Ryan said Wednesday, weeks after the paper announced it will shutter its Sunday magazine and lay off 11 newsroom employees.

Ryan said at a companywide meeting that the cuts will probably amount to a “single-digit percentage” of the company’s 2,500 employees but did not provide specifics. He added, though, that the company will add new jobs to offset the loss of positions that are “no longer serving readers,” and that The Post’s total head count will not be reduced.

Later, in an email to staff, Ryan said that the plan to cut jobs “in no way signals that we are scaling back our ambitions” but that “like any business, The Post cannot keep investing resources in initiatives that do not meet our customers’ needs.”

The publisher walked out of the meeting after dozens of employees raised their hands and peppered him with questions. Plans for job cuts will be finalized “over the coming weeks,” Post spokeswoman Kathy Baird said in a statement.

The development comes during a difficult season for media workers, as companies across the industry have laid off workers and instituted hiring freezes. Citing “economic head winds” as a factor last month, The Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, announced the newspaper will end its weekly stand-alone magazine, along with the jobs of its 10 staffers. The magazine’s last issue will publish Dec. 25. The company also eliminated the job of Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman. None of those employees were offered new roles at the paper.

During Wednesday’s employee meeting, Ryan cited a difficult economic environment, particularly for companies reliant on advertising, and he acknowledged that “for those people whose positions will be eliminated, this will be a difficult time.”

But he said that “regardless of economic conditions, we will always make decisions on how to best serve our readers” and that such cuts were a strategic move required to put The Post on solid business footing into the future.

“The Washington Post is evolving and transforming to put our business in the best position for future growth,” Baird said in the 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.”

Buzbee told colleagues that she learned on Tuesday that Ryan planned to make an announcement about job cuts at Wednesday’s meeting.

Ryan made his comments about cuts, which he said addressed questions submitted in advance, at the end of the meeting, which had mostly focused on touting the company’s initiatives and products. It quickly turned contentious. Hundreds of employees had packed the room, and many tried to ask questions as Ryan left.

“We have questions,” said Katie Mettler, a reporter and co-chair of the employee union. Another reporter asked whether people whose jobs are eliminated will “be treated like the magazine staffers were.”

Ryan said that they have “multiple opportunities” to ask management questions and that “we will have more information as we move forward,” before walking out.

Following the meeting, Washington Post Guild leaders said members were “outraged at the unceremonious announcement” of job cuts and Ryan’s refusal to take questions at the meeting.

“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. “There is no justification for The Post to lay off employees in a period of record growth and hiring.”

This article has been updated with a statement from Guild leaders.

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