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WaPo publisher storms out of staff town hall, won't answer questions after announcing layoffs

"We'll have more information as we move forward. Thank you very much."

Published: December 14, 2022 5:09pm

Updated: December 14, 2022 5:51pm

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan stormed out of a Wednesday town hall with the publication's staffers, refusing to answer questions or address concerns after announcing layoffs at the paper.

Ryan asserted that the paper would not reduce its overall headcount, despite the layoffs, but was met with a bevy of questions from attendees, who demanded he explain his efforts to protect their positions. The layoffs are set to take place in early 2023.

The outlet's communications chief, Kathy Baird, told the New York Post that the layoffs would affect less than 10% of WaPo's roughly 2,500 employees and clarified that the layoffs were part of a process by which the organization would invest in other areas and bring on people to serve in new roles.

The publisher was defiant in the face of employee backlash, telling them he would not allow the town hall to become a "grievance session." One attendee referenced the recent termination of the outlet's Sunday magazine staff, all ten of whom were laid off in November, per the outlet.

"Fred, you talked about positions getting eliminated. What are you going to do to protect people's jobs?" the individual asked. "Are they going to be treated like the magazine staffers were?"

"We'll have more information as we move forward. Thank you very much," was Ryan's reply.

He then left the room.

WaPo's employee union, the Washington Post Union, excoriated Ryan for both his handling of the announcement and the decision to conduct layoffs, saying "[t]his behavior is unacceptable from any leader, but especially the leader of a news organization whose core values include transparency and accountability. There is no justification for The Post to lay off employees in a period of record growth and hiring."

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