One of the weirdest stories to come out Fox laying off its digital writers, editors and some social media talent as part of their long-dreaded website changes was what happened to Tyson Winter. Winter, a social media specialist who (per his LinkedIn profile) had been with Fox since January after several years at the Pac-12 Networks, tweeted Tuesday that he only found out he was let go 27 hours later thanks to a vice-president not knowing who he was:
For the past 27 hours, FOX didn't inform me I was among yesterday's mass layoffs bc the new VP didn't know who I was.
It's been fun, LA.✌️
— Tyson Winter (@Tyson_Winter) June 27, 2017
A non-Winter source tells Awful Announcing Winter attended a meeting for the remaining staff Tuesday and was told he was safe, only to later learn he had been laid off. A second source would later confirm the following retelling of how this played out.
“Basically, Jamie [Horowitz, Fox Sports’ president of national networks and head of digital] showed up today for a big all-hands meeting with everybody left,” the first source said Tuesday. “Pretty much, he acknowledged the [Awful Announcing] article and said he was sad to hear, or bummed to hear, or something like that, disappointed to hear that morale had been low and that people had been stressed. …He defended the [January] meeting [where Horowitz talked about shifting from original written content to written content relaying what TV personalities said, or ghostwritten content under TV personalities’ bylines] , and said his only other option would have been to lie to everyone about what the future was.”
“So Tyson went through that whole meeting. And they said ‘Anybody in this room is safe, you have nothing to worry about.’ Jamie even said for as many people that are down, and as many frowns there are in this room, we want to fill this room back up with smiles, or something along those lines.”
“So Tyson tries to log on to his computer, and it’s not working. He calls IT, and they say ‘Your account’s been deactivated, you should talk to your manager.’ Well, the funny thing is his manager had been fired. So he then gets an email on his personal email from HR saying ‘I need to speak to you immediately.’ So they call him and they basically say, ‘So sorry, we regret to inform you, we were supposed to tell you this yesterday, and there was a miscommunication, and we didn’t.'”
The source had strong criticism for new vice-president Michael Bucklin and his role in Winter’s poorly-handled dismissal, saying Bucklin is only there to please Horowitz and Charlie Dixon (executive vice president of content for FS1 and FS2).
“The new VP who’s been put in charge, apparently his objective is to keep Jamie happy, keep Charlie happy, and ignore what’s happening below you. It’s all about managing up, not managing staff.”
The source said morale amongst the remaining employees remains terrible, both at Fox digital and on the FS1 lot, with many of those who avoided the cuts looking for other jobs. And that’s interesting, because the supposed emphasis here was a shift to digital video (as you can see from their web redesign), but they’ve cut plenty of people doing various social video functions and apparently created a morale disaster with the rest. The way they dealt with these layoffs has also produced major blowback, with this source saying they only spoke up because of how Fox has handled this.
“The business side I get, I don’t care, but when people are getting the way that people are getting treated, that’s when there are consequences for action,” the source said. “It has been a clusterfuck on every level from the second that Pete [Vlastelica, the former Fox Sports executive vice-president of digital] walked out the door.”