ABC News Plans Major Job Cuts As Part Of ‘Fundamental Transformation’; Westin’s Memo

ABC (NYSE: DIS) News is planning a major restructuring of its operations that will likely leave it with “substantially fewer people on staff,” according to an e-mail sent to employees this afternoon by ABC News President David Westin. Westin calls it a “fundamental transformation” that will “ensure that ABC News has a sound journalistic and financial footing for many years to come.” He says that the changes, which will include extensive digital training for remaining employees, “will make ABC News the place to work in the digital age.”

The network will offer buyouts to all full-time, non-union employees in the U.S. and also plans to offer buyouts to some union represented employees. Westin says that the response to the buyouts will dictate whether ABC News will need to lay off employees. A source says the company needs between 300 and 400 employees to take the buyouts in order to avoid layoffs.

The job cuts would be the first at ABC News since January 2009, when ABC News cut about 35 staffers — a move that was attributed to the “weakening economy.”

The memo:

From: Westin, David
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:40 PM
Cc: Sweeney, Anne
Subject: ABC News Transformation

Over the past several years, we