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ABC News Completes Cuts; 350-400 Jobs Slashed

ABC_4.28.jpgThe process of cutting up to 25% of the jobs at ABC News is all but complete.

Twenty two ABC News employees were laid off in a round of involuntary cuts yesterday. Those layoffs came after more than 300 staffers, many more than had been anticipated, agreed to take a voluntary buyout. In February, ABC News president David Westin announced a massive reorganization which meant staff cuts between 300-400. The actual number, between 350-400, is right in line with that expectation. In addition, TVNewser has learned, 39 staffers were promoted to positions being vacated by those taking a buyout.

In a note to staff today, obtained by TVNewser, Westin writes, “We have much yet to do as we move to make full use of what new technology makes possible and we implement fully the structural and organizational changes that we’ve begun throughout the division. The full extent of these changes will be realized over the summer and into the fall.”

The cuts come from across the network and from around the world. In bureaus and from broadcast shows and from every platform as well as the businesses that support the news division.

The special events unit has effectively been dismantled with the shows and anchors now responsible for producing and anchoring breaking news special reports depending on the time of day. The unit, headed by longtime ABC News staffer Marc Burstein, will continue to plan long-range special programming including election coverage and the production of obituaries of the well-known.

The buyout, a standard severance plus 20%, may have been attractive enough for the 300+ who took up ABC’s offer. One insider tells us there was concern early on that only a few dozen might volunteer, meaning the layoffs would have been much greater. The remaining staff cuts will occur over the next few months as the contracts of some employees expire.

• Our earlier coverage:

Feb. 23: Westin on ABC Cuts: “This Doesn’t Have Anything to do with Seniority or How Much Anybody Gets Paid”

March 24: Brian Rooney, Laura Marquez, Lisa Fletcher Among the ABC News Correspondents Cut

March 26: Deadline for ABC News Voluntary Buyouts is Today

April 2: Betsy Stark Latest ABC News Correspondent Cut

April 22: Andy Rooney on son Brian Rooney: “He’s good. He won’t be out of work forever”

April 23: Changes at ABC News Assignment Desk

David Westin‘s note, after the jump…

Related, Los Angeles Times’ Matea Gold: “…staffers within the news division describe the cutbacks as an excruciating and demoralizing chapter that has left many of them questioning how the pared-down news division will be able to compete.”


_________________________________
From: Westin, David L.
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:39 PM
To: #ABCTV News ALL
Cc: Sweeney, Anne X.
Subject: Transformation

As you know, our original timetable for making a wide range of personnel changes called for us to be at or near completion by the end of this week. We have reached that point, and I thought it time to give you an update.

Many more people elected to take the voluntary package or a buy-out of their contract than we anticipated when we began the process. Unfortunately, however, there were a few of our colleagues that we still had to lay off earlier this week. This has been a difficult time for everyone – and most especially for those who are leaving us. We wish them well and thank them for their service.

Now it is time to look to the future. We have much yet to do as we move to make full use of what new technology makes possible and we implement fully the structural and organizational changes that we’ve begun throughout the division. The full extent of these changes will be realized over the summer and into the fall.

Thank you to everyone who has made it possible to do what we’ve had to do and – most important – have continued to report the news in keeping with the highest traditions of ABC News. ABC News is now prepared for the future – prepared first and foremost editorially and creatively but also prepared economically and technically. From this base, we are positioned to grow and to do even greater work than we have in the past.

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