Is TWT Preparing for Shut Down?

Following The Washington Times‘ announcement of intent to lay off at least 40 percent of its staff of nearly 400, sources tell FishbowlDC that something is still awry with the management’s intent for the future of the paper:

“We have developed plans to secure our position and advance our vital role in an evolving media marketplace and through challenging economic times,” said President-Publisher Jonathan Slevin.

After issuing letters to staff per the federal WARN Act (which offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs), TWT management has made no effort to retain prized employees — or any staff at all.

In the midst of mass layoffs or other corporate upheavals, it’s common practice to offer retention bonuses, ensuring key employees don’t jump ship during the upheaval. But newsroom sources say management has made no mention of the paper’s future, nor has any top TWT official contacted individual employees since a mandatory staff meeting on Dec. 2.

Other signs leading some to believe that the paper will cease to exist in the coming months are the contracted CFO (Curtis Scheel from Tatum executive services) and the paper’s intention to leave former Executive Editor John Solomon’s post vacant.

While one proposed sale of the paper recently fell through, there is still a chance a buyer will turn up and persuade company execs to sell. And even if that doesn’t happen, the paper could still drastically reduce its staff and move forward as a political sheet, possibly as an internet-only publication.

But some say the facts point to a different future.

“Nothing is certain, but the projected layoffs are inching closer to 60 percent and the option of closing the paper within six months is starting to look like the most likely scenario,” a source familiar with the situation told FishbowlDC.