ABC Cuts More Jobs in Washington

Network Focusing on Digital; Moving Many D.C. Operations to New York
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ABC continues to cut staffers in Washington, D.C. -- 16 in its most recent round -- and to reassign jobs as part of an ongoing strategic rethinking of its news operations announced in June by ABC News president David Westin.

At that time, Westin said in an internal memo that about three-dozen staffers "worldwide" would be cut as it redeployed assets to digital.

The company last week laid off approximately 11 graphics-department staffers in Washington in a move of that department to New York, although a source said there will still be "more than one" full-time graphics person in Washington, where This Week is produced.

The D.C. department had produced graphics for Nightline and World News stories out of Washington, as well.

In addition, the company let go two Nightline researchers who had been based in Washington and reassigned their duties to other staffers. The move made room for two digital and segment producers who have been hired in D.C., the company said.

ABC has been paring back in Washington ever since it moved most of the production of the formerly Washington-based Nightline to New York.

On the radio side, an ABC source confirmed that three engineering positions in Washington were eliminated, also as part of the digital rethink.

The cuts concerned union staffers currently in contract negotiations with the network. ABC has made no secret of wanting to change its seniority system to factor computer skills into the equation and allow it to retain workers with the computer skills the network feels it needs to keep it competitive in a digital world.

The union sees the strategy as a way, instead, of getting rid of higher-paid, more senior workers in favor of lower-paid, younger ones.

ABC said in a statement following a blog item in FishbowlDC about the cuts last week: "This is part of the strategic process David Westin announced to the news division back in June. As part of that process, we are restructuring our graphics department in Washington and moving graphics operations to New York. The only program solely produced out of Washington, This Week, will maintain a graphics operation there. In addition, two Washington-based Nightline research positions have been restructured into digital and segment positions. The responsibilities of the two researchers will be assumed by other Nightline staffers."

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