The Washington Post has laid off more than 20 employees including a majority of writers and editors associated with its gaming vertical Launcher and its children-focused publication KidPost. A number of writers and editors from the Amazon-owned newspaper announced their layoffs via social media Tuesday and noted that both sections of the newspaper would eventually be shut down.
While we do not know the full extent of those affected by these layoffs, we do know some of them: Multiplatform Editor Alyse Stanley; Assistant Editor Mikhail Klimentov (who really helped elevate esports at the publication); Lead Assignment Editor Riley MacLeod; Video Game Video Editor Jhaan Elker; and writers Jonathan Lee, Noah Smith, Shannon Liao, and Nathan Grayson.
Some of those affected have been offered positions elsewhere within the company while others have been told they can apply for open positions. WaPo Emerging News Products Editor Mike Hume will remain in his role, as will long-time WaPo games writer Gene Park, who recently recovered from cancer.
News of layoffs hit WaPo employees on Tuesday. In an internal email obtained by Axios, Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee announced the layoffs company-wide:
“I want to let everyone know we have completed the review of newsroom positions announced at the December town hall and provide you with an update on the actions we have taken today. We have made the difficult decision to eliminate 20 current newsroom positions, and we have reached out to those employees. In addition, we have identified 30 open positions we will not fill.”
The company also said that it would sunset Launcher and KidsPost in the coming weeks. WaPo leadership cited the economy as a determining factor in its decision.
Given the ever-changing climate of gaming, potential billion-dollar mergers, the continued unionization of the industry, and the economic impact on the entire sector, laying off reporters like Nathan Grayson and Shannon Liao seems like a bad decision—both were probably the most cited writers at the publication in 2022. Liao single-handedly broke multiple stories about conditions inside Activision Blizzard related to sexual harassment and the movement to unionize at some of its studios. At a time when these developments in the gaming industry are gaining momentum, removing reporters who understand the sector and are connected enough to write in-depth stories seems like a deeply flawed decision.
Launcher is the latest in a string of game-related media outlets that have suffered severe layoffs over the last several months including The Verge owner Vox Media, Fandom (GiantBomb, GameSpot, Metacritic) IGN, and FanByte, among many others. Many smaller outlets—some with a specific focus on esports—also experienced layoffs in the fourth quarter of 2022.