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ABC News Lays Off 22

Network completes round of more than 350 cuts; most took buyouts

ABC News laid off 22 employees on Tuesday, the final step in a round of more than 350 cuts at the network.

The network expected it would have to lay off far more staffers, but more than 300 took voluntary buyouts. A source with knowledge of the network’s plans said ABC slashed between 350 and 400 staffers from its headcount.

Before the cuts, ABC News employed about 1,400 staffers.

"ABC News is now prepared for the future," president David Westin wrote in an e-mail to staff Wednesday afternoon. "From this base, we are positioned to grow and to do even greater work than we have in the past."

A representative for ABC News did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

In February, Westin announced the impending changes in a memo to staff: “When we are finished, many job descriptions will be different, different skill sets may be required, and, yes, we will likely have substantially fewer people on staff at ABC News.”

That month, the network also said it would close most of its U.S. bureaus. (except Washington) and cut the number of domestic correspondents – which had numbered about 30 — in half.

Here’s Westin’s entire memo:

From: Westin, David L.
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:39 PM
Cc: Sweeney, Anne X.
Subject: Transformation

As you know, our original timetable for making a wide range of personnel changes called for us to be at or near completion by the end of this week.  We have reached that point, and I thought it time to give you an update.

Many more people elected to take the voluntary package or a buy-out of their contract than we anticipated when we began the process.  Unfortunately, however, there were a few of our colleagues that we still had to lay off earlier this week.  This has been a difficult time for everyone – and most especially for those who are leaving us.  We wish them well and thank them for their service.

Now it is time to look forward.  We have much yet to do as we move to make full use of what new technology makes possible and we implement fully the structural and organizational changes that we’ve begun throughout the division.  The full extent of these changes will be realized over the summer and into the fall. 

Thank you to all who have made it possible to do what we’ve had to do and – most important – have continued to report the news in keeping with the highest traditions of ABC News. ABC News is now prepared for the future – prepared first and foremost editorially and creatively but also prepared economically and technically.  From this base, we are positioned to grow and to do even greater work than we have in the past.

More to read:

ABC News to Slash Staff
ABC News Plans to Close Most Bureaus