ABC News to Cut Staff by 25 Percent

NEW YORK: ABC News is cutting its workforce by 300 to 400 positions by the end of this year, according to published reports. ABC News staff members received a memo yesterday from division chief David Westin stating that the restructuring would “affect every corner of the enterprise.” Several overseas bureaus will be closed as part of the related restructuring. The memo indicated that voluntary buy-outs would be offered to full-time, non-union employees in the United States, and possibly to those overseas. The Los Angeles Times ran the contents of the memo.

In it, Westin states that the digital revolution has made “business more competitive than ever before,” and that ABC News has to adjust to the marketplace. He outlined six parameters to the restructuring:

More digital journalists will be employed for newsgathering. Editorial staff will become one-person bands, shooting and editing their own material as is now practiced on “Nightline,” though ENG crews will still contribute the bulk of content. Operations for “Good Morning America” and “World News” will be combined. Program staff will be on call at all hours for special events. A “more flexible blend” of staff members and freelancers will be employed on long-form programming, and redundancies will be eliminated.

Westin told the Times that finances are driving the restructure. Staff now numbers 1,400.

At the network level, ABC cut 31 of the 575 jobs from its Broadcast Operations & Engineering group in January. As many as 40 more may be cut before the end of the year.