ViacomCBS is axing between 300 and 400 employees, citing financial pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of last year’s merger between Viacom and CBS. The cuts include staffers at CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports, CBS Studios and CBS Television Studios. The Los Angeles Times reports that 12 people are being let go at Chicago CBS-affiliate WBBM. At CBS News, five percent of the division’s 1,400 full-time employees are expected to lose their jobs. “Working with reduced budgets, we have had to make some extremely difficult decisions,” CBS News president Susan Zirinsky said in a memo to employees. “But this restructuring is necessary to ensure CBS News remains strong long into the future.”
Simon & Schuster (which is owned by ViacomCBS) has named Jonathan Karp president and CEO, effective immediately. Karp succeeds Carolyn Reidy, who passed away earlier this month. He most recently served as president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, which includes Atria Books, Avid Reader Press, Gallery Books, Scribner, Simon & Schuster and their associated sub-imprints. Before joining Simon & Schuster in 2010, Karp was founder, publisher and editor in chief of Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group. “Jon embodies the values that Carolyn instilled at Simon & Schuster, and he is well suited to guide the continued growth and evolution of this incredible global brand,” said ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish. ViacomCBS recently announced plans to sell Simon & Schuster.
A “news segment" about Amazon that was aired on local television stations around the country was actually put together by Amazon’s PR unit. A video from nonprofit media company Courier Newsroom shows reporters from stations in California, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia reading the same Amazon-provided script, which puts a favorable spin on the company’s role in delivering essential groceries and cleaning products during the COVID-19 pandemic, while "keeping its employees safe and healthy." The video footage that accompanied the reports also came from Amazon. “Just got an email from Amazon’s PR team with a pre-edited news story and script to run in our shows. They are selling this as giving our viewers an ‘inside look’ at the company’s response to COVID-19,” Zach Rael, an anchor for ABC affiliate KOCO 5 News in Oklahoma City said in a Tweet. A statement from Amazon said the package was designed to aid news media that cannot shoot on location during the pandemic.