ABC News President David Westin on Digital Aspects of Reorganization

In the wake of the reorganization at ABC News, which will trim 300-400 jobs from the operation, president David Westin spoke with Chris Ariens at TVNewser and offered more details about the moves.

When asked, “What would you say to critics who charge that this ‘transformation’ is a convenient way to get rid of experienced employees and bring in younger, cheaper talent?,” Westin responded:

This doesn’t have anything to do with seniority or how much anybody gets paid. This has to do with doing our jobs in a better, more efficient way; more flexible and nimble. And yes, in a way that absolutely costs less. There will be less layers, less people touching a piece. I want to be clear on this, Chris: I’m not suggesting that we’re going to flip a light switch and go 100 percent digital in the field. We’ll have a range, but it’ll be substantially different.

In his memo to ABC News staff Tuesday, Westin wrote:

But all of us are good reporters. We can see that our entire society is in the middle of a revolution — a revolution in the ways that people get their news and information. The digital age makes our business more competitive than ever before. It also presents us with opportunities we couldn’t have imagined to gather, produce, and distribute the news. We can have great success in the new world — but only if we embrace what is new, rather than being overwhelmed by it.

In newsgathering, we intend to dramatically expand our use of digital journalists. We have proven that this model works at various locations around the world. We believe we can take it much further.

An essential part of this intended transformation will be extensive training in the new technology — whether in the field or in-house. This is an extension of the digital bullpen training we’ve undertaken already, but it will be on a scale that we have not seen before. This training program and changes it will make possible in all of our operations will make ABC News the place to work in the digital age. We won’t just be preparing people for the new world; we will be living in it.

For the complete conversation between Westin and Ariens, please click here.