Thursday, April 17, 2003
New York Paula Zahn will switch from morning to prime-time on CNN, part of a series of moves that illustrates the network's increased emphasis on news over opinion.
CNN is also cutting its long-running political debate show, "Crossfire," in half and moving it from the evening to the afternoon, according to changes announced late Tuesday in a memo to staff members. They will take effect on Monday.
Zahn, host of CNN's successful "American Morning" newscast, has been working double-duty in the morning and evening since the war started. She will be anchor of the new "American Evening" newscast that airs from 6 p.m. to 8.m.
"This will be a destination news program, developed over time, that will take full advantage of CNN's domestic and international resources," said Teya Ryan, CNN's general manager, in the memo to her staff.
It replaces the one-hour "Crossfire" that had been airing at 6 p.m., and the news interview show with Connie Chung that was on at 7 p.m. Chung's show was dropped by CNN last month.
Since taking over as CNN's chief executive during a busy news period this winter, Jim Walton has stressed news over opinion and personality to try to further distinguish CNN from ratings leader Fox News Channel. Walton canceled the long-running afternoon show "Talkback Live," in one of his first moves.
"Crossfire," the granddaddy of political shout shows on cable, will air from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ryan said. Off the air since the start of the war, there had been some question about whether it would return.
CNN executives sought to reassure "Crossfire" personalities that they weren't being put out to pasture.
"We have talked to the 'Crossfire' anchors and have assured them all that we value their role across the network and intend to use them even more as we approach next year's presidential elections," Ryan said.
"Inside Politics," the one-hour afternoon show with Judy Woodruff as anchor, has also been cut to a half-hour and renamed "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics." The Washington-based Woodruff also will be anchor of a one-hour newscast in the old "Talkback Live" time slot, starting at 2 p.m.
Bill Hemmer will replace Zahn at "American Morning." CNN spoke to Jane Clayson, former anchor of "The Early Show" on CBS, about a role on its morning show, but she won't be joining the network, said Christa Robinson, CNN spokeswoman.
Left unclear are whether Zahn will have a co-anchor in the evening, or what role will be played by Jack Cafferty, who was part of "American Morning."