Westin on ABC News Cuts: ‘I Concluded We Needed to Move Now’

By kevin 

Below is a selection of excerpts from the articles posted so far around the news media regarding the ABC News cuts. In addition to our interview, ABC News President David Westin spoke to a number of other outlets about the changes happening at his network.

From NY Times’ Brian Stelter and Bill Carter:

“ABC News has always kept its head above water, even in really bad times,” [Westin] said. “But as I looked out over the next several years I could not in good conscience say that things are going to get better and there’s going to be a big turnaround in broadcast revenue. As a result I concluded we needed to move now.”

From NY Observer’s Felix Gillette:

In a telephone interview with Mr. Westin on Tuesday afternoon, we raised the issue of anchor salaries and whether or not the top contracts were sustainable moving forward. “I’m never going to talk about any individuals’ salaries, because it wouldn’t be fair,” said Mr. Westin. “But I can tell you without reservation, we’ve been addressing that for a few years now, quietly behind the scenes. The economic reality has effected everyone’s compensation.”

From the LA Times’ Matea Gold:

“I don’t see this is a light switch you flip,” said Westin, adding that the news division would still retain some traditional approaches to news production. Still, nearly all producers are going to be asked to be “digitally fluent,” he said, and the current practice of signing producers to contracts guaranteeing their employment will be reexamined on a “case by case” basis.

From Variety’s Cynthia Littleton:

WGA East was awaiting further details from the net on how the changes will affect ABC News scribes. “We have been in contact with management and we anticipate getting details as soon as possible,” said WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson.

From B&C’s Marisa Guthrie:

But [Westin] stressed that the cuts would not impact the on-air product. “If I thought that what we were doing would compromise the value of our content in any way editorially or creatively, I wouldn’t do it,” he told B&C.

From AP’s Frazier Moore:

The economic downtown in the advertising market last year “focused the mind quickly on the business realities we face,” he said. This was followed by the realization that the newsgathering business is going through irreversible changes in the digital age. Third, he said innovations in technology offered “not a just a challenge but an opportunity” to do more with fewer people and “get to stories you couldn’t get to with a traditional crew.”

From the NYPost’s Peter Lauria (under the headline “ABC-ing You Later”):

Disney, which owns ABC, doesn’t break out financial figures for ABC News. But the source said the division was hit hard financially last year, and managed to only be “marginally profitable.”