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  • Newspaper Guild Rips "Shameless," "Galling" Bonuses For WaPo Publisher

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The Newspaper Guild is criticizing The Washington Post and its publisher Katharine Weymouth following a report this week that she stands to earn millions of dollars in stock-based performance incentives in the coming years while the newspaper continues to accept buyouts from staffers and struggle with continued losses.

    Washington City Paper reported Tuesday that in addition to making nearly $2 million per year in 2010 and 2011, Weymouth could be in line to make millions more in stock bonuses in coming years:

    Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth was criticized last year by Post employees when it was revealed that she made over $2 million in 2010. Weymouth's salary decreased in 2011, as the paper prepared to offer buyouts to employees, but only by a little--she made $1.9 million.

    For all the attention that has been given to Weymouth's salary, she could earn much, much more in the coming years if she makes her performance targets. According to an SEC filing made last week by the Post, Weymouth stands to receive as many as 42,500 shares in restricted stock awards by 2018 if she meets the goals. If the Post stays around its current stock price, at $363.51 when the market closed yesterday, that would be worth around $15.4 million.

    This would represent a huge jump in Weymouth's stock awards. Since 2009, Weymouth has received a comparatively miniscule 7,500 shares.

    Restricted stocks awards, in which stock is given outright to an employee, are different from stock options, which only give the recipient the option to buy shares at a set price.

    The story comes less than two months after the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild revealed that at least 32 Post employees had accepted a recent buyout offer, the fifth since 2004.

    Poynter.org reported in a Feb. 8, 2012, article about the Post buyouts that the newspaper's revenue in the third quarter of 2011 was down 9 percent from the same period in 2010, with advertising revenue down 20 percent. The company's newspaper division had lost $9.9 million in the third quarter alone, Poynter reported.

    Asked to comment on the latest Weymouth bonus potential, Fredrick Kunkle, a co-chair of the Guild's Post unit, issued this statement to Media Matters:

    I can tell you it's galling as hell to think that we have squeezed more bodies out of the newsroom, outsourced more jobs across the company and given most of the remaining employees pay increases that don't even keep up with inflation so that senior executives can pay their country club dues. 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. But I guess we'll always have Watergate.

    Post officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.