In the latest sign that network news is in a fight for its very survival, ABC News is slashing a quarter of its staff and closing many of its far-flung bureaus. CBS shed 6 percent of its staff a few weeks ago, and NBC cut back three years ago. The economic problems facing broadcast TV outlets are similar to those dragging down newspapers -- online competition is stealing viewers, and shrinking advertising revenue is breaking budgets. Will sweeping scaling down save network news, or only slow its demise? (Watch a recent clip of Diane Sawyer on "ABC World News")
The big-three news broadcasts are history: Network news made sense back in the days of Walter Cronkite, says James Joyner in Outside the Beltway, but it's obsolete in a world where viewers have hundreds of channels and websites to choose from. Trimming the fat won't help -- the smart move is to "cancel the shows" and move on.
"Network news is dying: So what?"
ABC isn't dying, just changing with the times: This isn't the end of TV journalism, says Kevin Allocca in Mediabistro, although we might be witnessing the extinction of high-priced eye candy and desk-jockey anchors in network news. From now on, ABC will insist that everyone, even star correspondents, pull their own weight by becoming one-man bands who report, shoot, and edit their own stories.
"Changes come to network news"
NBC is in decent shape, but ABC and CBS are in peril: NBC is in a good position to compete in this new landscape, says Marisa Guthrie in Broadcast & Cable, because it has its MSNBC cable news channel to help it add resources and amortize costs. But ABC and CBS are "hamstrung by limited airtime and declining ad revenue." If they can scale down without hurting the "final product," they could survive. Otherwise, it's all downhill from here.
"News purges cut into muscle"