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Traditional Broadcasting Continues to “Adapt”

It’s not a good time for journalists, or to be a terrestrial radio personality. As newspapers merge and cut back and radio stations cut back, ABC competitor CBS is cutting back the news staff at the network and its stations. Jacob Adelman has the story for the Associated Press.

CBS-owned TV stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago are reducing their news staffs. The cuts include two well-known anchors in Los Angeles, five on-air veterans in San Francisco and one of Chicago’s highest-paid anchors.

About a dozen news staffers will depart KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, according to a person who works at one of the CBS-owned stations and requested anonymity because policy prohibits disclosing personnel matters.

KCBS and KCAL (formerly owned by The Walt Disney Company) are both owned by CBS, with KCBS carrying the network programming and with the stations sharing a newsroom and personnel. CBS also owns Los Angeles news radio stations KFWB AM 980 and KNX AM 1070, and there is further crossover with them.

The person told The Associated Press on Tuesday that longtime anchors Ann Martin and Harold Greene will leave when their contracts expire in May. Others, including reporters Jennifer Sabih and Jennifer Davis, were laid off Monday.

Technical staff was also trimmed, the person said.

More details about who is getting cut where is at the link.

Georg Szalai and Kimberly Nordyke have the Reuters/Hollywood Reporter take. My thoughts are after the jump.

Disney quickly unloaded the newspapers from the CapCities/ABC acquisition, and many radio stations more recently through the Citadel deal. Terrestrial music radio has been laying people off like crazy. Most stations are now owned by a handful of large companies who can spread their programming across markets. Syndication and automation further reduce the need for local on-air talent. With mp3 players, satellite radio, and more options than ever for listening to music you pick at home, you may see more music radio stations on terrestrial radio switching to non-music formats. aBut since people can now get their news online (and customized) and via their mobile phones, news radio may not be the way to go.

I would think the people at ABC News are not breathing easy. Television has always been about entertainment as well as news, but when Disney acquired ABC, the news division found itself part of a much larger animal that is focused much more on entertainment, tourism, and consumer products. Then, with the radio station unloading, the news division may have even less importance to the corporation.

Hopefully, Bob Iger, being from ABC and being married to a journalist, will keep the news division strong. I would think having a strong news division would help other parts of the corporation in that journalists can often produce material for books, television specials and fictional programming, and feature films – all businesses in which Disney is involved.

I should note that I have a particular interest in journalism, as I am a Public Information Officer.