Open plea to Rupert Murdoch re: KTTV

Mark Sudock, a senior editor at Fox 11, is chagrined enough at the station's deep layoffs to send me an open letter asking Fox owner Rupert Murdoch to intervene. The layoffs, foretold in June, take effect Thursday. "I have written directly to Mr. Murdoch about this," Sudock emails. "By sharing my remarks in 'open letter' form as well, my hope is to increase the potential for reaching Mr. Murdoch and, ultimately, to save jobs."

Mr. Murdoch, I am one of many proud members of the KTTV news team. As one who has been aboard since Fox acquired KTTV Los Angeles from MetroMedia, I have been gratified to participate in the growth of this news organization.
As you know, sir, KTTV has been an impressive flagship station in the Fox Station Group. Year after year, we stay number one with both network and local product. Mornings, we deliver a full five and a half hours of live television. We do it with style and we do it with class. We then catch our breath and from the mid-day through the late night hours, we competently deliver another three and a half hours of original programming over the air and on the web.

Today our product and our staff is the gold standard. We who work for you hear this constantly. The envy is palpable.

Now, Mr. Murdoch, I am appealing to you personally, as approximately one-hundred and seventeen dedicated workers face layoffs beginning on September 10th.

We all get it, sir. Times are tight. Ad revenues are down and business is business. As this reality trickles-down to the local station level, the impact is severe.

Sir, I edit documentaries and investigative news pieces at KTTV. I’m one of a facility full of specialists (maintenance people, videographers, writers, air talent and so many more) who have honed their skills over a lifetime. We cover train wrecks, wildfires, earthquakes and the like with skill and panache. We serve the city competently… and the city responds by trusting that we’ll be there when there is need. Chances are very real that our reputation and our legacy is at risk.

The best of the best are being furloughed. Those who survive will no longer be practicing their craft. Those who survive will be working outside their skill set; immersed in on-the-job training crash courses; attempting to keep the product as clean and presentable as they can.

The cuts are so severe that virtually no one remains on-site to technically maintain the facility. The cuts are so deep that our ability to cover the news as we did this past week (with pursuits, brush fires and the Michael Jackson funeral happening simultaneously) is in absolute jeopardy.

Sir, if we believe the rumors, this station or the station group needs to save ten million dollars. These layoffs appear to be the solution. Please, Mr. Murdoch, see a bigger picture.

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. 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.

Mr. Murdoch, we are told that the economic downturn is cyclical and temporary. Yet, long after this storm passes, these fast-approaching layoffs will continue to impact employee lives.

Is their no alternative by which your dedicated workforce can be empowered to weather this economic slowdown? Might I even be bold enough to ask if it is not possible for those in the executive wing to support their co-workers by passing on their corporate bonuses, if for only one year? Could that compensate for the shortfall? There must be someway to balance the books without severely impacting the security of the very people who make Fox Television great.

With respect, sir, this is where the rubber hits the road. If necessary, those in control of this successful corporation must burn the midnight oil. Please, please do everything possible to keep what the media has accurately described as the Fox11 bloodbath from being realized.

Mr. Murdoch, please intervene.

Most respectfully,

Mark Sudock

Senior Editor-Features

KTTV Fox11 News

Fox Television Center

Los Angeles

Previously on LA Observed:
On Fox 11's 'deaths in the family'

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