Valentine’s Day Bloodbath: WaPo Lays Off Workers in Hush-Hush Manner

On Thursday, Valentine’s Day, WaPo officially discussed the circumstances surrounding the layoffs of employees, FishbowlDC sources have learned. Internal sources appropriately place the number at 54, though a publicist hasn’t confirmed the exact number. Every department facing cuts was asked to keep the news to their department only, as to not make it look like a mass layoff. We’re told those given pink slips include Beth Jacobs, General Manager of Mobile, and Ken Dodelin, Director of Mobile Products. Sources say the entire Mobile Product Management and IT Project Management staffs have been eliminated.

“[CIO and VP Shaliesh] Prakash thinks these are ‘inefficiencies’ —  that is the exact word he uses for human beings who are not useful according to him,” said a source who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “Get rid of experienced people to save money, under the garb of streamlining is the new trend inside the Post.”

The news comes on the heels of the NYT, which recently offered buyout packages to 30 employees. That target number wasn’t reached; it isn’t clear how many employees were let go.

Jacobs’ LinkedIn profile describes her as a “senior-level executive with over 20 years experience in the in marketing, business development, product management and operations in the digital media and mobile sectors.” Before WaPo, she was VP of Mobile Business Development at AOL. She earned degrees from Bucknell and NYU Business School. She has been employed at WaPo for two and a half years.

Dodelin, meanwhile, is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Like Jacobs, he previously worked in Mobile Business Development at AOL. He earned three degrees — a JD and MBA from from the University of North Carolina and a B.S. in psychology from the College of William & Mary. He has worked at WaPo for nearly two years.

We reached out to a WaPo publicist Kris Coratti, who had no comment at this time. We also sent requests for comment to Jacobs and Dodelin. The emails, sent to the usual WaPo configuration, came back with failed delivery notices.

See the internal memo from Prakash.

WaPo memo:

As you know, evaluating our structure and reducing costs is an ongoing priority. As part of a broader restructuring across the commercial side, we identified several areas where we believe we can operate differently.

As a result, and after careful consideration, we are planning to eliminate some positions, effective April 30, 2013. The employees affected by this position elimination have already been notified, and will have the opportunity to participate in a Separation Incentive Program that will include both separation payments and a company contribution to be used towards health insurance premiums.  I will share more and take your questions at our upcoming all-hands tomorrow, Feb 14th, 2013.

I fully recognize that situations like this are stressful and thank you for your understanding as we work through this process.

Shailesh Prakash
VP Digital Product Development and CIO

Update: Earlier we had a line in the item about how this was an ominous start for Executive Editor Marty Baron at WaPo. We struck it because we were informed that he had nothing to do with the business-side decisions. Still an ominous start, but who are we to squabble with technicalities? We had this weird thought that the entire newspaper worked as a team and that what happens within a newspaper is a reflection on the newspaper as a whole.