On Tuesday, the Washington Post began the first round of layoffs that were first hinted at in December, firing 20 newsroom employees and refusing to fill at least 30 open positions.
According to Axios, the original announcement of the planned layoffs by CEO Fred Ryan led to increased tensions among the employees of the newspaper, with at least 60 more people joining the Post’s union in the aftermath of the December meeting. In that meeting, Ryan suggested that they were looking to fire a single-digit percentage of the paper’s entire workforce.
“Newsroom leaders made these decisions after a thoughtful and deliberate review of our current roles and vacant positions,” said Executive Editor Sally Buzbee in a memo regarding the firings. “We prioritized the elimination of vacancies to minimize the impact on employees. We are also eliminating currently filled positions we concluded are not essential to serving our competitive needs.”
In addition to the layoffs, the paper is also closing down its section about online gaming, Launcher, as well as KidsPost.
The Washington Post Guild issued a statement denouncing the layoffs, declaring that “while the number of people affected is reportedly far smaller than what Publisher Fred Ryan initially alluded to in his layoff announcement at last month’s town hall, we believe any job eliminations right now are unacceptable.”
“The number should be zero,” the union statement added.
The layoffs come amid reports that Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Post and founder of Amazon, is looking to sell the paper so that he can buy the Washington Commanders football team.