WashPo Newsroom Irate Over Exec Pay Bump
4:52 pm, May 9th | by Amy Tennery
Things are getting ugly for the Washington Post’s executive team. After announcing just a few days ago that profits were way down in the first quarter — 66 percent down, to be precise — the paper’s newsroom union is crying foul over publisher Katharine Weymouth’s pay. See, despite her company’s recent jaw-dropping performance decline, Weymouth is getting a 16.4 percent pay increase. Media Matters snatched up the details from the SEC filing:
“In 2010, Ms. Weymouth was paid $537,000 in base salary and received a bonus of $483,750 based on the achievement of pre-established 2010 performance goals. In addition, Ms. Weymouth received $1,053,441 based on achieving pre-established goals under the WP Media Three-Year Long-Term Incentive Plan and a payment of $72,000 for her 2,400 vested Performance Units in the 2007-2010 Award Cycle.. Effective April 1, 2011, Ms. Weymouth’s base salary will increase to $625,000.”
In Weymouth’s defense (we’ll keep this short), the recent quarterly performance drop was largely due to Washington Post subsidiary Kaplan’s 48 percent drop in enrollment, according to Reuters, so it would be sort of unfair to besmirch Weymouth’s pay increase based solely on the Q1 figures. Weymouth is responsible for the paper, not the entire company.
Unfortunately for Weymouth, however, the newsroom guild really doesn’t see it that way. At all. With the union’s contract set to expire June 7, they’re now demanding across-the-board pay increases commensurate with Weymouth’s. The union pointed to the increasingly poor financial performance at the paper in a written statement (also posted by Media Matters):
“The Newspaper Publishing Division (of which The Post is the major part) reported significant operating losses in 2008 and 2009, and a smaller operating loss in 2010 (due in part to several one-time charges), and The Post continues to experience declines in circulation and print advertising revenue. In 2010, for example, The Post’s Sunday and Daily circulation fell 8.2% and 7.5%, respectively.”
Ouch. Could this get as ugly as the Thomson Reuters mess? Or will the Post throw in the towel?