The Washington Post is reportedly on track to lose substantial sums of money and digital subscribers since former President Donald Trump left office.
The Post is expected to lose a large sum of its profitability in 2022 after several steady years of growth, The New York Times (NYT) reported Tuesday. The newspaper currently has less than three million digital subscribers and its additional ad revenue fell to $70 million in the first half of 2022, down about 15% from the previous year.
This trend has evidently fallen upon news outlets after Trump left office in early 2021, though the NYT and The Wall Street Journal have gained subscribers, the outlet reported.
Fred Ryan, publisher and chief executive of The Post, has reportedly considered making 100 staffing cuts to the newsroom, according to the NYT. A spokeswoman for the former, however, said no cuts are currently being made and that management is “exploring positions that should be repurposed to serve a larger, national and global audience.”
Many in The Post’s newsroom have grown frustrated with Ryan’s reported efforts to expand coverage, according to the NYT. There has also been growing tension surrounding Ryan’s focus on the staff’s performance, monitoring who comes into the newsroom and demanding that a handful of staffers be managed out for not meeting his performance standards. He has also reportedly threatened to fire employees who have not yet transitioned from remote work back into the office.
The newsroom’s frustrations have also increased due to limited marketing efforts on Ryan’s part, the outlet reported. The Post produced ads promoting its new coverage and brands, including climate, but those ads were never run. The outlet played an ad on “Jeopardy!” in 2021 revolving around its coverage in Afghanistan during the same year. (RELATED: WaPo Terminates Reporter Who Went On Weeklong Public Meltdown)
The expansion of new coverage is expected to broaden the newspaper’s audience and increase the number of digital subscribers, the NYT reported. The newsroom is reportedly planning to add 150 new positions and is attempting to reach five million digital subscribers by 2025 through a new initiative called “5 by 25.”
The newspaper’s efforts to broaden its coverage beyond politics began in 2016 when it witnessed a decline in readership as the public expected former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to win, the outlet reported. They created an initiative called Operation Skyfall to reach more subscribers, but the efforts were mostly abandoned once Trump won the election.
Ryan had expressed support for expanding investments into targeting younger readers, partnering with the Hollywood studio Imagine Entertainment, and growing internationally, the NYT reported.
“These investments are aligned with our strategic road map, and we expect to see returns, both in consumer and advertising revenue, on this work in the coming year,” a spokeswoman for The Post said.
The Post has considered buying out The Associated Press, The Guardian, or The Economist to expand its audience internationally, though Ryan has demanded a narrower focus on news coverage rather than increasing the outlet’s rivalries, according to the NYT.
In 2021, Ryan told an internal group during a meeting that The Post could be the essential news outlet for the English-speaking world. At a following meeting he said The Post should be a definitive source of news, the NYT reported. Some in attendance at the latter meeting interpreted Ryan’s second goal to be less ambitious than the first, though others in attendance reportedly did not agree with that interpretation.