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The Washington Post lays off 20 editorial staff

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The Washington Post laid off 20 employees on Tuesday, the latest in a series of media and technology companies to cut jobs in the face of a challenging economic climate and continued declines in advertising revenue and readership.

In addition to eliminating these 20 positions, the company will also keep another 30 vacancies unfilled, a number less extensive than many expected. In mid-December, publisher Fred Ryan told staff that the company would eliminate a “single-digit percentage” of its 2,500 employees because it “cannot continue to invest resources in initiatives that do not meet the needs of our customers.”

As part of the layoffs, The Post will discontinue its video game and esports section, Launcher, which debuted in 2019, as well as KidsPost, its long-running news and features section aimed at children.

In a memo to staff Tuesday afternoon, managing editor Sally Buzbee wrote that “we are not planning any additional job eliminations at this time.” She also said newsroom managers tried to prioritize eliminating vacancies over layoffs.

“While such changes are not easy, development is necessary for us to remain competitive, and the economic climate has guided our decision to act now,” she wrote. “We believe these steps will ultimately help us fulfill our mission to scrutinize power and empower readers.”

Even with the layoffs, The Post’s total headcount will remain the same or higher by the end of 2023. The company will continue to hire new staff in other roles, Ryan has said. The company will continue to expand its coverage in areas that provide “high value to our subscribers and new audiences,” a Post spokeswoman said last month.

As news of the layoffs spread among Post employees Tuesday, the Washington Post Guild sent a message to its members saying that “we believe any job elimination at this time — at a time of continued growth and expansion — is unacceptable.”

The job cuts at Posten characterize a period of internal tension and turnover. Several senior executives and high-profile employees have left for rival publications. In November, the company abruptly announced the closure of its Sunday magazine and fired its 10 employees, as well as The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic. Posten has also seen a decline in the number of digital subscribers, a decline that has prompted top management to examine its strategic goals and ambitious expansion plans. The union has seen a record number of recruits, an increase driven in part by discontent among staff.

Jeff Bezos, The Post’s billionaire owner, has recently been drawn into more direct involvement with the publication. He visited The Post headquarters last week and held meetings with top executives, including Ryan and managing editor Sally Buzbee, as well as some editorial staff. He was sitting in on a morning news conference, after which an employee approached him about the layoffs. He replied that he was there to listen, not answer questions. But he added, “I’m committed,” according to the employee. “Trust me, I’m committed.”

The industry is going through a dark season of cutbacks. CNN laid off hundreds of employees in December. Gannett went through several rounds of layoffs last year. Last week, Vox Media laid off 7 percent of its 1,900-person workforce, with the CEO citing the current “economic climate.” On Monday, Spotify cut 6 percent of its workforce and Google parent Alphabet cut 12,000 jobs, the most in the company’s history.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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