Bad News for CNN Employees: Jeff Zucker Just ‘Went There’

CNN Upfront 2014

So, you think the economy has rebounded and your savings account can begin its weatherstripping for the colder days. Vacations are being planned, allowances are no longer declined and date nights are back in full swing.

Only one problem: You work at CNN.

In a corporate-wide memo recently sent to all Turner Broadcasting employees, CNN Chief Jeff Zucker and Turner CEO John Martin said that, as part of the company’s “Turner 2020” plan, the company will unveil a new corporate structure “in the next two months.”

This is CNN.

This has not been the best year for the network in terms of ratings, which hit a record low in January. In Q2, CNN got some good news — it was barely beating MSNBC.

In fact, the debacle of CNN’s breaking news with the vanishing Malaysian Airlines MH370 led to a whopping 45 percent drop in ratings! Things happen in network news, which is why reorganizations need to happen. Unfortunately for the 13,000 people at CNN (more than half of them based in Atlanta), that means layoffs across every department.

“A core team of our colleagues has looked at the purpose, structure and fit of literally every department in the company—more than 700 in all,” Martin wrote. “Division leaders now are reviewing the working groups’ reports on their respective areas of oversight. Over the coming weeks, they will work with me to finalize the organizational changes we will implement.

“Resetting our business operations through the balance of 2014 will position us to move forward aggressively in the new year,” Martin added. “We’ll start 2015 a more streamlined, nimble and efficient company focused on driving programming, monetization and innovation, in a culture that emphasizes and rewards continuous improvement.”

FOX MSNBC CNNFor anyone in PR who used to be in news or anyone in PR who just watches the news: do you notice what’s missing? No one is talking about the product.

There is no chatter about the quality of reporting. There is no attempt to look internally at what is being placed on the air. It’s like MTV still calling itself “Music Television” when it hasn’t broadcast music in years. The future of news and “go there” to inspect the present.

Ratings are in the toilet. Distrust in the media is at an all-time high. Someday, news will hearken back to the days of Cronkite and Murrow, but until then, we get to experience the new breed of “news” led by talking heads and holograms.

All the branding and re-branding in the world can’t make that into something it’s not.

Now pass me the newspaper.