ABC News on Thursday stunned staffers, laying off several senior executives and restructuring its newsroom amid a broader workforce reduction being carried out by its parent company Disney, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
“Throughout the company, teams are being impacted by the downsizing that was announced several weeks ago, including our own ABC News family,” ABC News President Kim Godwin told staffers in a memo.
“While these actions are never easy,” Godwin added in the memo obtained by CNN, “they are a necessary step to ensure we’re on solid footing for the years ahead as we chart a sustainable, growth-oriented path forward for the entire organization.”
Among the staffers let go, according to people familiar with the matter, were senior vice president of newsgathering Wendy Fisher; senior vice president of talent Galen Gordon; vice president of talent Mary Noonan; Los Angeles bureau chief David Herndon; vice president of communications Alison Rudnick; senior executive producer Chris Vlasto; and executive editorial producer Heather Riley.
The C-suite bloodbath astonished staffers at the network, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
“There’s a ton of shock that’s gone through the newsroom,” one ABC News staffer told CNN. “So many people with institutional knowledge are gone.”
A person familiar with the matter said the cuts impacted approximately 50 roles across the organization, including those that were open and yet to be filled.
“While this is a difficult time for all of us – particularly those directly affected by these tough decisions – it’s important to remember that together, we are resilient, and will emerge from this period of transition stronger than before,” Godwin told staffers in the memo.
Godwin said she promoted London bureau chief Katie den Daas to vice president of newsgathering and that executive vice president Derek Medina will now oversee talent strategy. Godwin also said that investigating and enterprise units will be overseen by executive editor and senior vice president of news Stacia Deshishku.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will share additional information about these teams and our plans,” Godwin said.
The cuts come after Disney chief executive Bob Iger said last month that the media giant will lay off approximately 7,000 staffers. Iger said this week that the layoffs had started and that they will take months to complete.
The cost cutting is not unique to Disney or ABC News. In the last several months, the media and technology sector has been battered by brutal economic headwinds and uncertainty. Most major media and technology companies have conducted layoffs and downsizing while also working to trim costs wherever possible.