WNET Group announces layoffs to its New Jersey newsroom, plans to cancel ‘NYC-Arts’

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The WNET Group's headquarters in New York City.

The WNET Group in New York, which oversees the flagship public TV station and NJ PBS, among other properties, is facing job cuts and staff restructuring.

In a staff memo Tuesday acquired by Current, WNET CEO Neal Shapiro outlined a reorganization that involves several departments. The changes aim to align “our needs with the resources we have.”

“This means there will be staff departures in Community Engagement, IT, Kids Media and Education and NJ Spotlight News,” he wrote. “We thank all our colleagues for the outstanding work they have done for us.”

Since December, WNET has “separated 34 positions,” said Kellie Specter, a WNET spokesperson, in an email to Current. “Our total staff number is fluid because of our production work,” she said.

Late last year, WNET canceled its daily news program MetroFocus, a decision that eliminated eight of the 34 jobs cited by Specter.

NJ Spotlight News, the news division for NJ PBS, was affected by the latest reduction in force. It launched in 2010 as NJ Spotlight, an independent digital newsroom. The WNET Group acquired the news organization in 2019.

Specter said WNET’s commitment to local news continues. “[W]e are currently exploring some new opportunities.”

“We cannot say whether or not there will be more staff layoffs right now,” she wrote.

In his letter to staff, Shapiro explained other staff cuts and organizational changes.

NYC-Arts, which has been chronicling arts and culture in the tri-state area since 2008, does not have the funding to continue,” he wrote. Its last broadcast will be May 23.

WNET’s Interactive Engagement Group will be restructured. Effective May 1, the unit will be consolidated into WNET Digital Studios, a new unit that includes the IT department and the editorial/content team.

Shapiro described IEG as “innovators in digital technology from way back when websites were a brand-new idea.”

“We were — and still are — leaders in the PBS system in this area but much has changed,” Shapiro added. “With the continued expansion of digital content and capacity throughout the company, there is no longer a need for a standalone department.”

Shapiro said he is “adding a new position to head up WNET Digital Studios as well as coordinate more ‘Tentpole’ events, supervise cross-departmental content and help me build company-wide collaboration as outlined in the strategic plan.”

As part of the reorganization, Chief Digital Officer Dan Greenberg has resigned and will leave May 1. Shapiro acknowledged Greenberg’s contributions to WNET since 2006 as “foundational work” that “will continue to play a role in our digital transformation. He will be missed, and he has our deepest appreciation for all he has done for The WNET Group.”

Greenberg has decided to “continue his humanitarian work helping victims of the events of October 7th in Israel and the battle against worldwide antisemitism,” Shapiro added.

“I want to acknowledge how difficult these times are for everyone. Those who leave us do so with our best wishes and appreciation for all they have done. We are doing what we must do to ensure the stability and the future of The WNET Group,” Shapiro wrote. “We are grateful for your understanding and patience during this time – thank you all for your dedication and hard work.”

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