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WJLA’s “Massive” Talent Layoffs: “It’s Like Losing Everything at Once”

Some were called at home with the news, like 26 year veteran journalist Andrea McCarren.  “They said I didn’t need to come in today, McCarren told the Washington Post.

Andrea McCarren/WJLA Photo
Andrea McCarren/WJLA Photo

“I’m not bitter, but I am sad.”  

Reporter Sarah Lee was in the field, working the early morning shift.  She got a call telling her to come directly back to the newsroom.  “I don’t take it personally,” she told the Post.  “My contract was up, and I was legally eligible to be let go.”  Lee is pregnant, and will be out of a job when her contract expires at the end of February.

WJLA/DC’s 26-employee layoff was described by some as a “bloodbath,” and spread to other Allbritton-owned newsrooms across the country.  WJLA reporter Alisa Parenti told the Post’s Neely Tucker, “it’s just amazing to think how things were 20 years ago in this business and how they are now.  I loved my job, the people I worked with.  It’s like losing everything at once.”

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Latest Layoffs: “Bloodbath” at WJLA/DC, Newschannel 8

leon_alison_timA horrible day at Allbritton’s WJLA/DC and local cable operation Newschannel 8, a story first broken by @dcrtv and expanded on tonight by the Washington City Paper:

“As far as on-air talent goes, reporter Andrea McCarren is out, DCRTV says, as well as reporter Alisa Parenti, sports guy Greg Toland, and reporters Sarah Lee and Emily Schmidt. Also out, LL hears, is planning editor Vince Vaughan.

Some other details revealed at a 3 p.m. staff meeting by Allbritton President Fred Ryan:

  • 26 fired
  • Across-the-board 3.9 percent pay cuts (the significance of the figure isn’t known)
  • Three-year salary freeze [UPDATE: until the economy recovers, which Allbritton is predicting will last three years]
  • No more company matching contributions to 401(k)s

What about Joe Robert Allbritton’s latest venture—Politico? They’re, for the most part, off the hook, LL is told, and will keep hiring. DCRTV says Politico “has also cut back on other expenses – travel and some salary re-negotiations. However, another source tells us that there are no trimmings at the Politico, which is the only Allbritton division ahead of budget.”

Says tipster: “this has sent shock waves thru the broadcast media in town.”

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