As many as 100 workers of the CBS News staff in the division’s New York and Washington news operations have gotten the pink slip. The company began informing employees on Jan. 29, and the notifications continued into the following week. Some employees were reassigned, and others were demoted in the process.
The layoffs were made to reduce newsgathering costs and redundant staff. Most CBS News programs will end up losing some staff, including “60 Minutes,” which in the past was largely immune to such cost cutting. The total number of layoffs is expected to come in at about 100, or less than 7 percent of the news division. CBS News refused to say how many were being laid off.
However, the network did deny news reports that Katie Couric, the anchor of the flagship “CBS Evening News,” was facing a pay cut although Sean McManus, president of CBS News denied this, stating that changes to Couric’s contract, including her salary level, “have not been discussed at all, ever.” Couric makes about $15 million a year, and her contract is set to expire next year.
The network’s foreign bureaus underwent downsizing in 2008. In 2009, the network signed a deal with GlobalPost, an independent foreign newsgathering Web site with a presence in 50 countries.
The CBS layoffs come only a week after ABC News laid off 31 workers in broadcast operations and engineering (BOE). ABC’s BOE plans to eliminate more jobs later this year, bringing the total reduction in staff to about 70 positions including some union members. Other layoffs at ABC News are also expected.
Layoffs and restructuring have occurred at all three broadcast news divisions over the past few years. The recession has only worsened the situation. The companies have struggled to cut costs while trying to remain viable news organizations.