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ABC News to cut half its domestic correspondents, close bricks-and-mortar bureaus [Updated]

As part of the deep cuts announced this week at ABC News, the network plans to close all of its physical bureaus around the country except Washington and halve the number of its domestic correspondents.

ABC News President David Westin confirmed in an interview Friday that the network's ranks of bureau correspondents, which currently number several dozen, would be cut in half and be replaced with "digital" journalists who would be expected to shoot and edit their own stories.

“We will have as many total journalists as we do now,” he said.

Although the network will keep a minimal staff presence in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Boston, it will shut down its bricks-and-mortar bureaus there and ask its remaining employees to work from the local affiliates. The Washington bureau will remain open, but its size will be substantially reduced.

[Updated at 1:10 p.m.: Kate O'Brian, ABC's senior vice president of news, said that although the network eventually plans to shut down its physical bureaus in the long term, it is still examining all of its leases and is not going to immediately vacate all offices. The news division has not yet approached affiliates about housing network correspondents, but has found that model works in Denver and Detroit.]

The mood was grim in Los Angeles, the largest bureau outside of Washington. The 40-plus staffers were told this week that only a few producers would remain and only two correspondents would be assigned to cover the West, down from a total of six who work out of Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Many functions that had been done out of the bureau will be handled by a “logistics desk” in New York. Demoralized employees, who did not want to be quoted by name for fear of losing their jobs, said the severity of the cuts would make it nearly impossible to swarm major stories such as the perennial wildfires in Southern California.

Westin said the network would cope with the reduced manpower on breaking news stories by hiring freelance crews and making use of its expanded team of digital journalists, staffers who would be able to handle multiple tasks. Although a majority of stories will still be covered by traditional four-person crews, Westin said he expected a “plurality” of pieces would be done by people shooting and editing their own video. The digital journalists will be stationed in two-person teams around the country.

“I’m sure we will learn more as we go forward, but we have enough experience to be quite confident that we can not only maintain but in some cases enhance our editorial quality,” he said.

This week, the network began sending out letters offering voluntary buyouts to all nonunion employees, and is posting openings of the new digital journalism positions.

“This is a really big change,” Westin said. “Some people are going to embrace it and some people will believe it won’t work. I respect both those groups of people. It’s a question of who wants to work here in the way we’re going to change the place. ... I’m quite confident we will have enough people who are enthusiastic and up to the task.”

-- Matea Gold

 
Comments () | Archives (259)

“We will have as many total journalists as we do now,” said the President of ABC News, announcing the firing of half the network's correspondents.

Figures don't lie, but liars sure can figure.

As long as you count some kid with a small camera as a journalist, Westin's fine. I'm sure that kid will be every bit the equivalent of Brian Ross, Martha Raddatz or Kate Snow. The audience will never notice the difference.

{NOT}

“We will have as many total journalists as we do now,” said the President of ABC News, announcing the firing of half the network's correspondents.

Figures don't lie, but liars sure can figure.

As long as you count some kid with a small camera as a journalist, Westin's fine. I'm sure that kid will be every bit the equivalent of Brian Ross, Martha Raddatz or Kate Snow. The audience will never notice the difference.

{NOT}

Otherwise, ABC is no longer a News operation. Almost no foreign bureaus and no domestic bureaus except for the villagers and New Yorkers.
I hope the 'anchors' with their fat salaries are happy. Why not cut the pay of the talking heads and keep the bureaus open?

This is good news for the employees of the news stations. Now the laid off workers have the opportunity to compete for jobs in an arena they have been supporting. With the media's full support the politicians have brought in 40 million immigrants. Even during the last 10 years in which Obama recently admitted that no new jobs have been created. This has resulted in lower wages and now that the bubble has burst, permanent unemployment. Welcome to the world you've helped to create, it would be nice to see a few LA Times people in the same boat as well

Friday night ABC gave us a lot of extra-late night coverge about the Big Snow Storm in the East. Funny, they did not think that this was at least as important.

wow Cynical Network Guy had it totally right:

"Figures don't lie, but liars sure can figure."

excellent point!

WHO ELSE WANTS TO LAY IN BED WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION?????

A lot of reporters in non-union markets have been "one man bands" for years and have put together a good journalistic product.

The real story here is that the (formerly) Big 3 Networks are finding that life support in the first part of the 21st century doesn't come easy and is rapidly going away. And no, Obamacare isn't the answer. Too many options for the public, including those who are discovering newspapers again on the Internet.

It's too bad, but ABC has been caught in the "dumbing down" of America like almost everybody else.

Sounds like the boycott of ABC and the global warming supporters is working.

And the fact-checking that "digital" journalists are not editing their stories to suit an agenda, making news instead of reporting it...?

No wonder the MSM has zero credibility.

Part of the problem is that the people who worked for ABC and were supposed to be JOURNALISTS were actually editorializing in what should be news stories. Since the mainstream media is unwilling to be unbiased and stop trashing the right and cheerleading the the left, they are taking the logical consequences - loss of readers, listeners, watchers, and thus revenue. They made their bed, so I am not upset that they now have to lie in it. How's that hope and change working out for you, ABC?

ABC News seldom reports the complete news, mostly just taking points from democratic party.

Hmmmm... one wonders why these clowns in the MSM keep pushing a news business model that is utterly doomed to failure - BIAS AND MISINFORMATION!
They, like cnn, nyt, nbc, cbs et al keep trying to blame the internet and ignoring the fact that so called 'journalists' have about as much credibility as used car salesmen! The bias and dishonesty is as plain as the ideology of the twits delivering it.

OH well, I personally believe they (the media in general) commited treason by refusing to vet Obama and report on his real background and his real lack of experience as well as his real views so I love that they're failing miserably with the American people, same as the empty suited charlatan.

Here's an idea - try getting back to journalistic integrity and reporting the truth and facts instead of your twisted, un-American ideology and running interference for the dems. Or, you can just keep cutting as the viewer/reader pool continues to dwindle and we go elsewhere to find out what you refuse to report on!

This is the way things are going to be; the multitasking required of newsmen will be offset by the dropping costs of their electronic equipment; the past represented a sort of luxury environment-cocoon.
It trained people for today's required more independent newsmen-producers.

To all the reporters and staff losing jobs: This is what happens when you quit REPORTING news and start ADVOCATING ISSUES.

Across the board, the mainstream media is paying a heavy toll for its shameless, dishonest promotion of Obama throughout the campaign and beyond. Americans don't trust the mainstreams and are tuning out and cancelling subscriptions.

Meantime, Fox News is soaring and The WSJ now has the largest circulation, having displaced lefty newspaper USA Today.

Good riddance to the Obama media.

Until the lying hacks claiming to be MSM "journalists" stop lining up on their knees to brew some fresh hot black tea, expect the loss of viewers to continue and to even accelerate.

Well, it looks like the West Coast will now receive the same coverage as "flyover country."

News? National and International News? What a joke! Their lack of coverage is the reason I stopped watching it 15 years ago.

Good to see that some Obama bootlickers will be out of a job....Hey you wanted him as Pres..you got him and now you live with the economy that he helped create....slanting your news in a way that is unpopular with the public will just ensure that you stay unemployed for a while

Try reporting without the left wing bias. Just do it fair and balanced. Works for Fox. Have your people send a resume to Fox, with the main line liberal media collasping Fox is probably hiring.

Hahahahahahaha! Sweet justice at last! Enjoy driving your Obama-sticker-covered cars around town looking for a new job. I HOPE you enjoy the CHANGE for which you all voted.

"The audience will never notice the difference"...LOL
"Why not cut the pay of the talking heads and keep the bureaus open?"...LMAO!
Because socialism/communism is only good for the connected party members and industry giants. For everyone elese, well....we are all equal...AT THE BOTTOM! They made their socialist beds, now sleep in them.

Sounds like a solid Business plan. Why do they need a bunch of reporters and staffers around the country, when all they do is re-broadcast what Media Matters or their Lord and Savior Hussein Obama hands them to say.

The biased network news media have been dying a death that they themselves have contributed to. If they would have kept their biases and slants out of reporting, instead of trying to effecutate change that they wanted, things would be a lot different for them. Good riddance - you are reaping what you have sown. Maybe Obama will create some jobs for you.

Why not set up satellite offices in Disneyland & Disney World, which is a more realistic home for the fantasy these people produce anyway? They could even create an ABC News ride with a toy train descending into a dark pit to observe news-mavens-at-work spiting out the latest hagiographic bilge lauding the latest Obama initiative.

 
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