Today’s news that TBD.com would be laying off 12 staffers, dropping most of its sports and news coverage, and retrenching as a “niche” arts and entertainment site wasn’t entirely unexpected. Just two weeks ago, Allbritton executives announced that they were putting the site under the direction of WJLA-TV general manager Bill Lord and dropping the TBD brands from WJLA’s website and from News Channel 8, the 24-hour local news station the company owns.
And at the time, the company promised there would be no layoffs.
“They told us not only would there not be layoffs, but that vacant positions would be filled,” says one TBD staffer. (Another TBD source confirms that.)
Allbritton CEO Robert Allbritton had attended the meeting earlier this month where the TV rebranding was announced, delivering an upbeat message about the site’s future. But he wasn’t at the meeting TBD held today to announce the layoffs, which sources say didn’t go over very well.
And file this part under “mixed blessings”: Staffers whose jobs have been eliminated will keep working at TBD for another four to six weeks, until Channel 7 gets its own website set up again. That postpones unemployment, and keeps the paychecks coming, but it’s a long time to continue to show up at a job that’s due to expire.