Friday, May 29, 2020

CBS News Layoffs Impact Philly, Chicago

Lesley Van Arsdall
Veteran sports anchor Lesley Van Arsdall was one of more than a dozen staffers this week to fall victim to cutbacks within the news operation at CBS3.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports also ousted were Chandler Lutz, the morning traffic anchor; Cleve Bryan, the station’s South Jersey reporter; and Chantee Lans, the general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor considered to be a rising star. Several engineers, writers, freelancers, and producers also lost their jobs at the Philadelphia news outlet, a station staffer said.

“It’s really lean now," said the station staffer, who was not authorized to speak to the media. "And we were already so lean to begin with.”

CBS3 has seen significant turnover in its executive, newsroom and sales personnel in recent years. While 6ABC and NBC10 battle it out at the top of the local ratings board, CBS3’s Eyewitness News has been stuck jostling for third place with Fox29.

The layoffs came as part of a nationwide staff reduction this week by the station’s parent company ViacomCBS.

Citing financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic and an ongoing corporate restructuring, ViacomCBS slashed more than 300 personnel across its news and entertainment divisions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

CBS merged with Viacom in December to create a new multinational multimedia behemoth then valued at $15.6 billion.

Though TV news viewership has soared as Americans hunger for pandemic news, advertising revenue has shriveled to close to zero because most ad-placing businesses have remained shuttered since mid-March because of COVID-19 .

Pam Zekman
By Thursday afternoon, the station’s website had scrubbed any evidence that Van Arsdall, Lutz, Bryan, or Lans had ever worked there.

Van Arsdall, 47, spent nearly 20 years at the station and was named the station’s weekend sports editor in 2011. She joined the Eyewitness News in team in 2003 as a general assignment reporter. Previously, she was a reporter and anchor at Newsradio KYW 1060 AM.

In Chicago, the legendary Pam Zekman, one of Chicago television’s premier investigative reporters, was among at least a dozen employees at WBBM-Channel 2 who lost their jobs today in sweeping companywide layoffs at CBS, according to Chicago Media Waatcher Robert Feder.

Others cut reportedly included morning news anchor Erin Kennedy, sports anchor Megan Mawicke, meteorologist Megan Glaros, and reporters Mike Puccinelli and Mai Martinez, according to insiders. Additional staffers, including some outside of the news department, were expected to be notified before the end of the day.

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