Mark Sudock, the senior features editor at KTTV Los Angeles who penned the open letter to News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch asking him to reconsider about the heavy layoffs awaiting the station this week, says putting pen to paper was a "cathartic" way of dealing with a difficult situation.
Sudock says around 100 people are to be let go from Fox's Los Angeles duopoly September 10, and another 12-17 on December 11. He says he's on the list for the December cuts. One insider said the layoffs are about half full-timers and have per diem freelancers.
He sent a letter to Murdoch directly late last week, but figured the News Corp. chairman would never actually see it. Thus the open letter sent to the Los Angeles media website LA Observed.
"In these harsh times for the country, your loyal and talented employees, many with decades of dedicated service, are being thrust into a market place where few if any jobs exist," Sudock wrote. "Homes are being lost, surgeries postponed and the most basic needs of thriving ‘Fox' families are threatened. On behalf of my co-workers, I am pleading for the kind of intervention that can only come from you."
Sudock, who says he's been at Fox's Los Angeles stations for the better part of 24 years, wonders how stations can fulfill their mandate of serving their community after such layoffs. "When you start dismantling the station, I don't know how you can do that," he says. "The cuts are so deep here that we looked at each other and said, ‘how do we do this?'"
Sudock says he's received an abundance of support from co-workers since his letter was posted this morning. He also says he's not been chastised by either News Corp. or his own management in Los Angeles for his dramatic missive, and is quick to point out that the company has been "great" about helping affected staffers with resumes and new job prospects.
Pointing the finger at the NABET union as much as at KTTV, Sudock says station morale is a far cry from when he started there years before. "It's always been a pretty happy shop; I'm biased but I remember it as the best shop in town to work at," he says.
With departing colleagues exchanging hugs and email addresses, Sudock adds, "it's incredibly depressing now."
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.