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The Media

Layoffs Hit Washington Post Mobile Team 108

Posted by timothy
from the tough-market dept.
imac.usr writes "The Huffington Post is reporting that The Washington Post has gone through yet another round of layoffs, but this time instead of cutting editorial positions, they're apparently cutting IT positions, specifically in the mobile applications department. According to Washington, DC media blog FishbowlDC, 54 people, including the General Manager of Mobile and Director of Mobile Products, were given the axe on Valentine's Day. A particularly damning quote from the FishbowlDC article: '"[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."' Given that mobile products seem somewhat more likely to succeed than printed newspapers, this seems a strange decision at best."
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Layoffs Hit Washington Post Mobile Team

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  • by hessian (467078) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:12AM (#42927477) Homepage Journal

    There are many things in Net 2.0 that are very popular, but that do not necessarily have utility or profitability.

    For example, just about everyone and their dog (on the internet, no one can tell you're a werewolf) uses Facebook, and before it MySpace, Friendster, Digg, Reddit, etc. But do these services have a working business model? It seems they all flounder at that point.

    It seems to me that most Net 2.0 firms have an unsustainable business model, which is:

    1. Get really popular.
    2. ???
    3. Sell company -> Profit!

    In the same way, we know we've got a lot of people who like using their phones to tweet, click, troll, sext, etc. But is this actually useful? And other than the cell phone providers, is anyone making money off this with a sustainable model?

  • by cultiv8 (1660093) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:19AM (#42927505) Homepage
    Removing the need for expensive mobile teams and relying on mobile app stores since 2012.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:32AM (#42927549)

    The source is unhappy they were let go. The 'inefficiencies' terminology was not attributed in the original source article, which includes a copy of the memo; I'm surprised no one has posted a link to the source article yet, so here it is:

    http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowldc/washington-post-layoffs-valentines-day_b96626 [mediabistro.com]

    According to the original source article, more people than just the mobile team were let go.

    I can understand them doing this, particularly since they referenced Web 2.0 in their hiring of Rob Malda (cmdrtaco), HTML5 is enough along that it can be used to deliver the content in a reasonable way, using a centralized paywall, and trying to maintain 7 iOS apps and 100's of Android apps, due to minor variations in platform, makes a browser-based experience a no-brainer, in terms of the money they spend on development.

    Overall, I think this does not bode well for non-game, non-vertical market app writers, so for all the people who are thinking that going to app writing is going to be a really lucrative payoff, this is probably the beginning of a trend, and they should consider some other line of work.

  • by yog (19073) * on Sunday February 17, 2013 @10:53AM (#42927693) Homepage Journal

    Actually that's pretty spot-on. I hate how every news organization today has to have its own downloadable app. "Welcome to the South Butt-hole Sentinel! Click OK to download our app! Or [typesize=0.001]click here to continue to site."

    I don't want to have a whole menagerie of single-site news apps of varying quality and usability. Aggregator apps such as Currents and Flipboard are a step in the right direction, but they leave me cold as well; they're weird, they pick and choose articles they think I want to see (usually off the mark) and a lot of the periodical's value is lost in translation. Among other things, the talkbacks are stripped out and these days, I find the talkbacks more entertaining and, sometimes more informative, than the original article.

  • by poofmeisterp (650750) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @11:30AM (#42927977) Journal

    They're dying anyway and mostly just propaganda and spin, which is just entertaining as you want, but useless for actual news. Eventually,when it cannot sustain itself, all will be fired and assets sold off. It was replaced by the internet. Just like the music industry, it is already dead and being eaten alive, it just won't admit it to itself.

    Read what I have to say, please, before you mods troll it out; I'm serious about what I'm saying.

    Those stages all sound like a drug habit.

    That's always been my opinion of successful media-oriented businesses; they start out with good intention. They make money. Things sort of level off. They see some idea that can make them more money and jump at it. It profits like you wouldn't believe. They invest more, more, more in it so they can profit more, more, more. The baseline for what's considered 'acceptable profit base' goes up with each success... Eventually, they do something stupid themselves or the profit-providing sources run dry and they have what I cannot say is any different than withdrawal symptoms.

    That's where the self-destructive (firings) or stealing for a fix (money laundering, tax evasion, etc) tendencies kick in.

    The outcome is determined by how and when they get caught.

    From this article's perspective, it looks like they're at the stage "But I gotta have MORE because it's been so damn good up until now!"

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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