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'The Washington Post' will cut 240 jobs through voluntary buyouts

People enter The Washington Post's headquarters. The newspaper is cutting nearly 10% of its jobs through voluntary buyouts.
ERIC BARADAT
/
AFP via Getty Images
People enter The Washington Post's headquarters. The newspaper is cutting nearly 10% of its jobs through voluntary buyouts.

Updated October 11, 2023 at 1:14 PM ET

The Washington Post plans to cut 240 jobs, or almost 10% of its workforce, through voluntary buyouts.

The Post had been "overly optimistic" about its growth in readership, subscriptions and ads for the past two years, interim CEO Patty Stonesifer wrote in an email to staff on Tuesday. "We are working to find ways to return our business to a healthier place in the coming year."

Stonesifer said voluntary buyouts would be offered to employees in specific roles. She did not list which roles.

"To be clear, we designed this program to reduce our workforce by approximately 240 employees in the hopes of averting more difficult actions such as layoffs – a situation we are united in trying to avoid," she said.

At a staff meeting on Wednesday, she said half of the job cuts would come from the newsroom, with the rest from the Post's business operations, an attendee said.

Donald Trump's tumultuous four years in the White House was a boon to all media, but especially the Post. Stonesifer told the several hundred people present that the paper was profitable from 2016 through 2021 - and then its fortunes faded. At one point, the newspaper had 3 million paid subscribers. Now, it has about 2.5 million. Advertising has been harder to come by too since 2021, with digital ads down by 30 percent.

Stonesifer attributed the decline to news fatigue following Trump's departure from Washington. As the paper of record for the capitol city, the Post was hit particularly hard.

Job cuts abound in media

This is the second — and much larger — reduction in staff at the Post this year. In January, it eliminated its Sunday magazine and a handful of jobs elsewhere in the company, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (The Post itself has reported that 50 jobs were eliminated.)

Bezos is not "an owner who wants to reap profits here," Stonesifer told Post staff on Wednesday. Asked why he wasn't more diligent in monitoring growth projections, she said he relies on his leadership team.

Publisher Fred Ryan left in June following questions of his handling of the newspaper's finances, strife with the Post's labor unions and reported tensions with Executive Editor Sally Buzbee, whom Bezos hired in 2021.

This has been a tough year across the media industry. NPR laid off nearly 10% of its staff this spring, citing a projected revenue shortfall. Other media outlets that announced steep layoffs include Gannett, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Vox Media.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.