Thursday, January 18, 2001
New York In the biggest shakeup in its 21-year history, CNN is revamping its newsgathering structure, cutting some 400 jobs and appointing three senior news executives.
The network has been struggling with a ratings slump and is gearing up for life under the newly created AOL Time Warner media empire. The shakeup, announced Wednesday, comes less than a week after CNN parent Time Warner closed its merger with AOL.
CNN's sprawling news operations will be concentrated under a central authority to coordinate coverage for its TV outlets and Web sites.
"This is the first time in our 21 years that we've conducted such and extensive re-evaluation of our infrastructure," CNN chairman Tom Johnson said. "We have grown tremendously into all these new channels and services, and all of us felt that as we move into a quite different era, bringing together TV and the Web, it was time for us to do this."
A main feature of the shakeup will the creation of a "super desk" in CNN's Atlanta headquarters that will make assignments spanning all 34 TV, radio and Internet news outlets run by CNN.
"We'll speak with one editorial voice on TV and on the Web," said Philip Kent, president of the CNN news group.
About one-third of the 400 layoffs, which represent about 10 percent of CNN's work force, will affect employees in Internet-related jobs. Another third will affect programming, and the rest will be spread throughout the company.
CNN is also making a number of changes to its programming lineup, including the cancellation of four business shows, "Movers," "Your Money," "Entrepreneurs Only" and "Street Sweep."
CNN will also add two foreign bureaus, an investigative team, new beats for religion and education, and regional operating centers in London and Hong Kong.
The all-news network has been struggling with sinking ratings as smaller rivals like Fox News Channel and MSNBC chip away at its leading position with personality-driven shows with colorful anchors such as Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly.