Matea Gold of the LA Times says the mood was grim at the ABC News bureau in Los Angeles, the largest outside of Washington.
The 40-plus staffers were told that only a few producers will remain and only two correspondents will be assigned to cover the West, down from a total of six who work out of Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Many functions that had been done out of the bureau will be handled by a "logistics desk" in New York.
Demoralized employees, who did not want to be quoted by name for fear of losing their jobs, said the severity of the cuts will make it nearly impossible to swarm major stories such as the perennial wildfires in Southern California.
[ABC News President David] Westin said that the network would cope with the reduced manpower on breaking news stories by hiring freelance crews and relying on its expanded team of digital journalists, staffers who will be able to handle multiple tasks.
"I'm sure we will learn more as we go forward, but we have enough experience to be quite confident that we can not only maintain but in some cases enhance our editorial quality," he said.