On 8 February, the same day that The Washington Post announced its fifth round of voluntary redundancies in the past several years, the Forbes website posted a long profile of Washington Post Chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham by Jeff Bercovici titled "Nice Guy, Finishing Last: How Don Graham Fumbled the Washington Post Co." that highlights a number of challenges and setbacks the company has suffered in recent years.
Among these are missed opportunities with Facebook and Politico, as well as major losses sustained from Newsweek (reportedly $40 million in the two years before the company sold it) and recent problems relating to its Kaplan education unit.
As all of these areas have suffered, so has the company's best known product, its namesake newspaper, which has seen circulation fall by 40% since 1995 (to just over 500,000).
Forbes quotes analyst Ken Doctor as saying that in the most recent quarter, the Post had "the worst performance of any of the public newspaper companies", in the US. Things are even off on the digital side, where "digital ad revenue, rather than rising to offset the inevitable loss of print sales, actually fell 14% in the most recent quarter", Bercovici writes.
In light of these developments, it should probably come as no great surprise that the Post is looking to make further buyouts in its newsroom, which has already reportedly been reduced by more than 200 people in the past three years, according to a New York Times story on Wednesday.
Specifically, on the Mediabytes website, writer Jeff Sonderman noted that according to a newspaper guild memo, the Post is looking to reduce its newsroom by 33 positions, with nearly half of those coming from just two areas: up to nine employees from Local, and up to seven employees from News Presentation and News Video.
An internal Washington Post memo from Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and published by Jim Romenesko on his website, notes that the voluntary redundancies will be available for a specified time and that for most of those employees who elect to accept a buyout, their resignation date will be May 31, 2012.
Sources: Forbes, New York Times, Mediabytes, Jim Romenesko