The NY Observer reports that on 2/1 CBS News execs and bureau chiefs, led by SVP Linda Mason, told employees that 2009 had been a disastrous year in the ad market. They had no cable operation to buoy the sinking revenues. It’s not you, was the message, it’s us. Dozens of employees—including staff members in D.C., San Francisco, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Moscow—were let go. The changes are effective immediately. There are no buyouts. According to the story, the network had long ago negotiated away most of the severance clauses in staff members’ contracts.
Ironically, four and a half years earlier, CBS chief Les Moonves had joked in The New York Times Magazine about bombing the news division. Word of the layoffs had first surfaced the previous Friday afternoon in the L.A. Times. By Monday afternoon, staffers from Washington to L.A. were sputtering in disbelief as they heard of top producers on the chopping block—particularly Mark Katkov and Jill Rosenbaum in D.C. and Roberta Hollander and Barbara Pierce in L.A.
The most disturbing news of the day for many was that Larry Doyle would no longer be working for CBS News. Doyle joined the organization some 40 years ago and had worked his way up the news ladder, eventually becoming the network’s top war producer.
For the time being, no on-air reporters or anchors have been asked to leave. But according to multiple sources, the network did inform a handful of veteran correspondents, including Randall Pinkston in New York, Sandra Hughes in L.A. and Sheila MacVicar in London, that they were being reassigned from prominent network jobs to reporting for CBS Newspath.
On Tuesday, CBS staffers were still on guard, said The Observer story. Word had it that executives from the news division were still on the move, meeting with staffers at bureaus around the country, bringing more bad tidings.
RBR-TVBR observation: Let’s face it, more and more folks are getting their news from the internet. They choose which headline to click on, rather than have someone spoon-feed the news to them. Where eyes go (no pun intended), advertisers follow, and that’s why these cuts happened. Also, viewers are less inclined these days to view big network newscasts as reliable and trustworthy – on the contrary, many see it as “propaganda,” skewed either to the left or the right.