The layoffs at ESPN this week, in which an estimated 350 jobs are being eliminated, mirror the cuts that hit another Disney entity five years ago, right down to the “broad strategy” memos that came from the top. In February, 2010, ABC News cut between 350 to 400 positions with many longtime, high-paid staffers shown the door.
In his memo to staff yesterday ESPN president John Skipper wrote, “these changes are part of a broad strategy to ensure we’re in position to make the most of new opportunities to build the future of ESPN. These ongoing initiatives include: Constant and relentless innovation, including integrating emerging technology into all aspects of our business.”
Five years ago, then-ABC News president David Westin also wrote about how technology played a role in the changes: “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.”
Both Skipper and Westin discussed the future of their network with typical layoff-memo language: “The decisions affecting our employees are never made lightly,” Skipper wrote; “This has been a difficult time for everyone,” Westin concluded.
Longtime ESPN producer and New York Mets superfan Gus Ramsey, who was among those cut yesterday, got shout-outs on the show he’s been a part of for the last 20 years.
“Congratulations, Gus Ramsey and all you Mets fans out there,” John Buccigross said as the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter wrapped up. Perhaps Buccigross just wanted a reason to acknowledge Ramsey, but we doubt his favorite baseball team advancing to the World Series is a worthy consolation prize after losing a job he’s held since 1994.
“Gussy- your Mets are gonna go to the World Series, kid,” Scott Van Pelt casually said while calling highlights of the Mets advancing during the midnight ET edition of SportsCenter.
Maybe the Mets were able to distract the veteran producer on what is presumably the worst day of his professional career. Based on his Twitter feed alone, it’s clear Ramsey is a super fan. Between Mets-related tweets, he found time thank friends and colleagues.
thanks to everyone for the nice words today. I truly appreciate them. (I thought at least 1 person would send me a Vince McMahon gif.)
— gus ramsey (@GusRamsey) October 22, 2015
Ramsey, and countless other now-former ESPN employees, will be missed by their colleagues. But it didn’t take on-air talent to make that clear.