CNN CEO Axes Many Employees, Moves to Radically Alter Company

CNN CEO Axes Many Employees, Moves to Radically Alter Company

CNN is planning to cut around 100 jobs as it embarks on a new strategic direction.

In a memo reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Chief Executive Mark Thompson explained that these reductions are part of a broader initiative to introduce a subscription service for and to integrate the company’s TV and digital news divisions.

“We recognize its potentially enormous impact on the individuals affected,” Thompson stated in an interview with the Journal. Currently, CNN employs approximately 3,500 people.

The memo did not provide extensive details but indicated that the subscription service would “be significantly built out of”

The digital subscription products are anticipated to feature news and analysis, alongside paid content focused on lifestyle journalism.

During his tenure at The New York Times, Thompson significantly boosted digital subscriptions from under 600,000 to over 6 million. He remarked to the Journal that emulating the Times’ strategy is “a logical possibility.”

Since joining CNN in October, Thompson has emphasized the need for transformation, acknowledging that the company is “nowhere near ready for the future.”

According to Variety, market research firm Kagan projects CNN’s subscriber base to decline by 5.6 percent, reaching 66.3 million this year, down from 70.3 million at the close of last year.

Thompson’s memo outlined plans to enhance CNN Digital with “strategic commitment, significant fresh investment, an injection of specialist expertise and plenty of creativity and experimentation.” The goal is to develop new digital products that emphasize experiences worthy of paid subscriptions.

Variety also pointed out that CNN “has yet to develop a sustainable digital-video product.”

The memo mentioned the creation of a range of “news you can use” offerings, focusing on lifestyle and feature content where CNN is already well-regarded and positioned to succeed.

“These products offer multiple opportunities for monetization through sponsorship, advertising, and direct-to-consumer subscription,” Thompson wrote.

“Existing areas of digital strength” such as “consumer advice” and health will be included in the subscription service.

Thompson emphasized the need for unity, writing, “Rather than separate tribes of TV and digital, international and domestic, we need to recognize that we are all journalists and storytellers first and foremost.” He also mentioned plans to offer more opportunities for staff to develop new skills and storytelling methods, and to facilitate movement within different parts of CNN.

He invoked the need to “reclaim the ‘pioneering spirit’” that founder Ted Turner emphasized when launching CNN in 1980.

Although CNN saw a ratings boost in June due to the prime-time presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the New York Post highlighted the network’s struggles. During the week of May 13-19, CNN averaged 83,000 viewers aged 25 to 54 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., marking its lowest-rated week since 1991, according to Nielsen figures.

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