Multiple sources are reporting that several employees at washingtonpost.com are losing their jobs as part of the merger of the site with the main Washington Post newsroom. Several of dot-com’s editorial staffers as well as some non-editorial workers are among those who’ve gotten the ax, according to the sources.
City Desk is not printing names just yet. We’ve contacted several allegedly dismissed employees but have not yet received direct confirmation from them.
When asked if the Web site has laid off employees, Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti responded with this statement: “As part of the work we’re doing to turn around the business that supports our journalism, there were a small number of individual positions eliminated as a result of efficiencies we have found through our new structure and through new technology, and those have taken place both in print and online.”
A top Post official cautioned against using the term “layoff” to describe reductions at washingtonpost.com, insisting that any dismissals are “targeted” at duplication of work between the Web site and the newsroom.
Washingtonpost.com is part of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the Post Co.’s online publishing subsidiary. The site’s employees and those of the main newsroom are in the middle of a merger operation that promises to end more than a decade of separation. Since washingtonpost.com launched in 1996, it has been located in Arlington, the better to allow it to explore the possibilities of the Internet unburdened by newsroom curmudgeonliness.
There’s a labor dimension to all this as well. Putting washingtonpost.com in Arlington saved Post officials the hassle of dealing with a union for its Web site workers. Now that the merged operation will be located in D.C., any dot-com staffers who make the move are possible card-carrying union members.
Though the divide helped to incubate a fine Web site, this is 2009: No longer can a media company afford to have its limbs scattered about the region. The parallel operations on opposite sides of the Potomac River did indeed spawn some duplication of functions, and the Post these days is all about zeroing out redundancies.
However, it’s unclear at this point whether the dismissals now afoot at washingtonpost.com all fall into the efficiency-reaping category. More reporting must be done. Stay tuned.