The Washington Times newsroom is hitting a rough patch. And right around the holidays, it doesn’t matter who has been naughty or nice. As WaPo‘s Erik Wemple has been reporting this afternoon, about a quarter of the newsroom is expected to be given the axe. As a result, some in the newsroom are now calling the new head honcho, Larry Beasley, “Evil Santa.” And judging from this picture below, they may not be too far off.
Some other sketchball details: Beasley drove up from Florida to take the job as TWT CEO in his motorhome. Says a TWT insider: “How low rent is that? This has TWT staff freaking out because how temporary is that that the head of the company could just drive away at any time and not look back — wouldn’t even have to pack. He was dusted off and brought out of retirement to take the job.” The clincher: The newsroom is afraid his real job is to close the newspaper and head back down into the Florida sunset.
Even so, the memo circulating this afternoon says the newspaper is absolutely “not folding.”
UPDATE: Jim Robbins resigned Monday from position as senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at The Washington Times. He resigned effective immediately. No notice.
See the memo from Editor David Jackson…
Since we’re all journalists, I know you’re well aware that newspapers are making significant adjustments everywhere to accommodate our changing times. Every news organization that distributes its content on paper is going through a transition that is designed to help it compete in a world where free news is widely available on the Internet. It will soon be our time to go through such a transition.
When I took this position I knew this was coming, and I know it will not be easy for anyone. I once worked for a newspaper that folded. But The Washington Times is not folding. It’s changing with the times, as all newspapers must. And we will be stronger when we get through this. I want to make it very clear that The Washington Times is not abandoning print. There are no plans to stop the printed edition. And there are no plans to reduce our publishing schedule. The transition that we are working on is going to require significant changes in the way we organize and present the news, and it is going to require a re-organization and a reduction in our current workforce to give us the new skills and new structure that we will need to grow our audience online and make our content widely accessible in today’s digital marketplace.
I can’t give you the details of any decisions about the workforce because nothing has been finalized yet. When it is, we will announce them to all of you as soon as possible. I can tell you, though, that the reductions in staffing that we expect will be a one-time only process. We do not intend to go through this again. And as we begin this process, our end goal will be to transition into a new digital-first news organization that will be distinctive, profitable, and clearly focused on the kind of stories, and analysis, and perspective that our current audience and our target audience expects of us. I believe The Times has an excellent opportunity to not only compete but thrive online, while also publishing a printed newspaper.
We have a unique and established identity and perspective that stands out from our competitors in the marketplace. And we have a loyal audience that has stuck by us through challenging times in the past. Serving those readers in paper and online will always be our primary focus.