City Desk

Post Guild Rips Publisher’s Potential Stock Windfall

The Post Guild—the union representing newsroom employees and some ad sales reps and other business-side workers at the Washington Post—has heard about Post publisher Katharine Weymouth's potential mega windfall if she hits her performance goals, and they aren't happy.

Guild co-chair Fredrick Kunkle slammed the incentive plan that could give Weymouth shares in 2018 that are worth around $15.4 million today.

"Are all these sacrifices so the publisher can get a big fat bonus?" Kunkle says. When the news about Weymouth's potential stock award broke, Kunkle says, a Guild member posted on the union's private Facebook group: "Is this what we're working for?"

Kunkle really goes for it in a statement to Media Matters, picking at the long-festering dispute over fluffy slideshows at the paper and alluding to the paper's celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal:

"It's even more shameless when you consider that the various strategies hatched by some of these bonus recipients have failed to boost the stock price or increase ad revenues, and yet arguably have diminished the Post's stature everywhere except among fans of squirrel galleries," Kunkle writes. "But I guess we'll always have Watergate."

The Washington Post Co. did not respond to a request for comment.

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  • DC

    It's worth noting that the Columbia Journalism Review has written about what it calls the Post's "self-destructive course," during which it has spent more than a billion dollars on stock buybacks and dividends that largely benefit the Graham family and other stockholders (like Warren Buffett) while shrinking the newsroom by half and making other dramatic cuts. The Grahams know their flagship is sinking, and they are pulling out as much cash as they can as fast as they can.

  • Typical DC BS

    Once again, the unions whine and do nothing. Why hasn't the union been buying Washington Post stock all along so their workers could participate in stock buybacks and dividends? Is it because it would prefer to spend it on lobbying, Democratic party donations or dumb PR moves, rather than look after it's members best financial interests?

  • Not really BS

    Post stock is actually one of the options available to employees in the Post's 401K plans. But Post stock would not be a smart investment for a new buyer, especially in comparison with the whole universe of investment options. For people who already hold large blocks of Post stock, like the Grahams and the family trusts that benefit them, dividends and buybacks are mechanisms to pull out cash and protect the stock's value (or at least slow its decline). The point is that the company's money is being used for that purpose rather than on staff, new products, buying other businesses etc., and consequently the core product -- the newspaper and web site -- are attracting fewer and fewer readers.

  • Typical DC BS

    @not really BS: My point was that if the union had been buying Washington Post stock all these years, they'd be in a position as a major stockholder (just like Warren Buffett) to have a decision-making say in how the business is run, as well as benefit from the dividends and buybacks. A publicly traded corporation's foremost responsibility is to generate profits for it's stockholders.

  • 123

    The Post generates profits for its stockholders by defrauding unsophisticated students of their federal loan money: