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Post Apocalyptic

Fred Ryan
Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/ Getty Images
Dylan Byers
December 14, 2022

On Wednesday, the dapper and hyper-well-connected Washington Post C.E.O. Fred Ryan stood up before the company’s thousand-plus staff and announced that the organization would be conducting layoffs in the first quarter of next year, resulting in a less-than-10 percent reduction of the workforce. Since Trump left office, and Marty Baron retired from his role as executive editor, the Post has been churning subscribers and losing ad revenue. During the town hall, Ryan told staff that ad revenue was at “recession levels.”

Such announcements have become familiar in the media industry these days as companies correct from an era of overhiring amid low interest rates and an overstimulated economy, and recession-anxious executives try to manage the P&L. If Netflix’s stock price can get cut in half, and Warner Bros. Discovery can remain punished by public market investors in search of higher EBITDA and synergies, then what is a mid-Atlantic media company, even one owned by the world’s fifth-richest man, supposed to expect?