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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)

Why hasn't ABC, NBC, etc. sent an investigative reporter over to FNC and figured out why their viewer numbers keep going up as theirs go DOWN, down, down, instead of blaming it on the internet. Even the NET traffic points in the same direction.

Needless to say they are getting what they deserve. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of idiots. I hope the rest of the flaming liberals go down. We have to clean up the liberal politicians Nov 2010. We need to remake America back to the good old days where God, Patriotism, Honor is the norm. Getting rid of the ACLU would be good too.

How's that Hope and Change working for you, ABC?

"severity of the cuts would make it nearly impossible to swarm major stories such as the perennial wildfires in Southern California."
When journalists "swarm" stories, we get to hear the same things over and over again.
Do we really need to hear about the California wildfires over and over again? With so much information being online these days, if people are interested in the southern California wildfires, don't they just need to go online to a local source - like latimes.com?
I think it makes sense to cut all these journalists. There are far too many out there currently, duplicating the work of one another. While it might be good to have fully staffed bureau offices in Washington DC - so we know what the politicians are up to - it isn't logical to have fully staffed offices in locales that have little effect on most peoples' lives.

How hard is it to just publish the DNC talking points each day?

Good riddance, to the so-called ABC journalists (89% Democrats last time polled) that are nothing more than liberals with a job that can write good, are being rewarded with all this Hopey Changey garbage you so willingly rammed down our throats during the campaign. Little did you know, but should have known in that you never vetted this Marxist... "hope & change" meant unemployment lines. How's it working for ya now??

Their ratings are so low it makes perfect sense. With all the technologies and software for film editing it shouldn't be too hard to find a talking head who can run software.

My advice

Get on the Fox train. Its going to run for awhile unless the make the mistake of tanking for a major political figure or 2.

With CNN's ratings pretty soon Larry King will have one of his kids with a tri-pod + an I-phone for staff.

"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."

Good grief. You mean the ABC reportage is about to get WORSE? I didn't think that was possible.

Also, I note voluntary buyouts are being offered to all "non union" people. Hat's off to the commie unions. United we fall.

There are plenty people out of work. My sympathy goes out to all the "non union" people in such circumstances.

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

Which would equal roughly...zero.

Any time any network or cable decides to be the second network to steer a middle or conservative bent, they can share the exclusive viewership instead of choosing to settle to fight while carving up the much smaller liberal viewership into 7 or is it 8 different slices of pie.

Networks would much rather be Liberals or Socialists, and poor failures than betray their desire to propagandize and try to convince the US population that liberals are right. And Black is White and Night is Day.

I was shocked to here a sponsor of ABC Nightly news assert that ..."this broadcast is sponsored in part by the Dept of Health and Human Services." What in the hell is our money, that we really don't have, doing sponsoring a Left wing media group? At least ABC knows how to make cutbacks , while D.C. is totally out of touch on economics.

... and remember that only the MSM, Oprah and Springer viewers take the MSM seriously anyway. Bottom line for ABC News is that they have made themselves irrelevant and they don't understand how it happened. As with most liberal/progressive "news" agencies, their "journalists" went to far left schools and hang out with nothing but "sophisticated" elitist lefties so they consider themselves to be normal average people. In fact, they wouldn't know a normal person if one landed on them.

The ObamaMedia is destroying themselves in support of the usurper.

It is a joy to behold.

I am sorry but I don't understand why this would matter. They should be able to get their Democratic talking points with just the one office in Washington,DC. Why keep the other offices open? It isn't like they are doing any journalistic reporting anyways. I say just mimeograph the stuff coming out of Alexrod's office and give it to whatever talking head wants to read it and go back to planning what soft porn you can put on the Disney Channel.

Conan! What is best in life?

"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." (on The View)

Yes, this was a good day.

Hum,it looks like Obama is gradually losing his biggest supporters in his Election.

If ABC/NBC/CBS had done a fair, complete and balanced job of reporting... FOX, Rush, Hannity and the alternatives would not exist. Unfortunate for the ABC employees who will lose their employment...

How's that hope and change working out for ya? Maybe had the ABC news media not become corrupted by the Obama Administration and the Democrats, but held steady to the old style investigative journalism, they would be surviving today. Instead ABC got in bed with the very people they are supposed to keep on the straight and narrow. That is why people have stopped watching. They no longer trust the media.

ABC News, All Barack Channel, is an Obama mouthpiece. They worked 24/7 to elect him and now work to put a positive spin on everything he says and does.

You are not journalists. You are Obama cheerleaders.

So this is what happens to the media when it goes to the left instead of being middle of the road. Heads up....NBC and CBS. Gee I wonder how Fox is so successful?

Isn't it just Great! I am so giddy that I could just jump for Joy! The faster we get rid of the LIARS in the MSM the better. MSM is not journalism of news!

The TRUTH will set you free. Free to find another job.

This is the beginning of the end for network news, not just ABC News. CBS and NBC will follow this same road. No one will miss any of them because they are all dishonest, partisan and have not been in the journalism business for over 25 years. Do they really wonder why their ratings have tanked over the last 20 years? Note to ABC News, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Brian Williams (since all 3 of you will be gone shortly); none of you will be missed since few watched you anyway.

Much as I'd love to jump on the "their left wing bias finally hung them" bandwagon, I suspect there is something else at work here. Afterall, they've been peddling this juvenile ivory tower garbage for years with no apparent effect on their bottom line.

I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that there are now hundreds of cable channels spewing out mind numbing "entertainment" and millions of internet sites spewing their assorted crap, so much so, that very few average people care about watching news anymore (period). It's kind of a pointless waste of time.

The people reporting have zero credibilty and the information presented is as predictible as it is useless (i.e. Obama is smart, republicans are evil, record snow falls prove global warming, government run healthcare will be cheaper, etc.) People would literally rather watch programs about pet animal attacks, amateur singing, vampires, nancy grace coverage about white trash killing their babies, loggers, lesbians, old cartoons, star trek re-runs, porn, etc.

But fear not. The democrat party can't exist without it's propaganda arm. I'm sure Obama and Pelosi will figure out a way of subsidizing the "Big 3" networks, ala GM.

"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."

It's interesting how the unions are protected throughout all this. Guess how many of those new "digital" journalism positions will be non-union? NONE. Because ABC is a left-wingnut propaganda rag.

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