The Washington Post, thought by some to be immune from the pressures facing smaller publications, may cut staff positions, according to a report in the rival New York Times.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Times writes that the Post now has fewer than the three million paying digital subscribers it had boasted of internally near the end of 2020. And digital ad revenue fell by 15% in the first half of 2022 YoY to roughly $70 million.
Fred Ryan, the Post’s chief executive and publisher, has floated the idea of cutting 100 positions through hiring freezes for open jobs or in other ways, according to the Times—this in the year that the Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its reporting on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The newsroom now has approximately 1,000 employees.
Sally Buzbee, the Post’s top editor, told the Times that the newsroom was, in fact, adding 150 positions. Ryan, Joy Robins, The Post’s chief revenue officer, and Buzbee, are overseeing a new initiative called “5 by 25,” an effort to reach five million total digital subscribers by 2025, the Times states.
But the report also says “Mr. Ryan’s focus on productivity and office attendance in the newsroom has also been a source of tension.”
TheRighting, a media company that aggregates articles from right-wing media outlets, reported earlier this week that the Post had suffered a 19% loss in unique visitors in July YoY, compared with a 3% increase for the Times, based on analysis of mobile and desktop Comscore data.
The paper, owned by Jeff Bezos has, or had, ambitious growth plans.
The Times writes that the Post’s business “has stalled in the past year. As the breakneck news pace of the Trump administration faded away, readers have turned elsewhere, and the paper’s push to expand beyond Beltway coverage hasn’t compensated for the loss.”
In contrast, the Times and Wall Street Journal have added subscriptions since Trump left office, the article continues.
Ryan did not comment to the Times. A query to the Post by Publishers Daily had not been answered at deadline.