DC Downsizing


ABC News in Washington has laid off a variety of folks, including most of the graphics department, Nightline researchers, and three radio employees.

ABC News President David Westin sent a memo a while back outlining the networks plans for cutbacks,, but that does not make them any easier on those involved,

ABC has been paring back in Washington ever since it moved most of the production of Nightline to New York, and it is certainly not alone in consolidating in the face of changing technology and financial pressures.

I have no first-hand knowledge of how the layoffs were handled, but given the current tensions over extended contract negotiations with the unions that have made some workers feel exceedingly vulnerable, I feel sure it was done with sensitivity and the acknowledgement of the quality of work and the difficulty of the decision.

Handled poorly, layoffs can be perceived as a referendum on someone’s value, the equivalent of telling a professional in a tough job that technology has rendered them interchangable with the minimum-wage worker at a local pizza place.

The axe is too often wielded without recognition of the service rendered, or sometimes of the emotional and occupational strain it puts on those left behind.

That approach hurts the people exiting, but it also affects the morale of those who must do more with less.

But ABC has a long history of quality news and I would expect no less quality from news managers given the tough task of letting good people go, and arguably the tougher task of mustering the troops left behind.