To many, the CNN Center, affectionately known as the “mothership,” serves as a reminder of the many wonderful relationships forged and career-defining moments established when it was the nexus for CNN’s Atlanta operations for the past 35 years.
With CNN relocating its global headquarters from downtown Atlanta to Warner Bros. Discovery’s Techwood Turner Broadcasting campus a few miles north in midtown Atlanta, past and present CNNers gathered at the big CNN sign located outside the CNN Center on Thursday for a group photo as they bid goodbye to a building many called their work home.
The iconic sign is a favorite picture-taking location for locals and tourists when visiting or around the landmark building.
Organized by MaryLynn Ryan, a former CNN vice president, and Southeast bureau chief, the event saw many current and former CNNers in attendance, including former CNN anchor Jim Clancy; CNN anchor Amara Walker; former CNN international executive David Clinch; CNN correspondent Ryan Young; former CNN president Tom Johnson; former CNN International anchor George Howell; former CNN Sports anchor Mark McKay and former vp and senior editorial director of CNN Worldwide Richard T. Griffiths, responsible for global editorial quality control.
Reflecting on what the CNN Center meant to them Ryan said, “This was home for 25 years, and all these people are family.” Clancy added, “It was a family operation and this was home.” Howell called CNN Center, “the place that changed my life.”
According to a CNN spokesperson, CNN is moving to Techwood in stages, with the process expected to conclude sometime in 2023. All of CNN’s Atlanta operations will be housed at the Techwood facility, which is being prepared to accommodate many of CNN’s functions, including multiple studios and control rooms.
Griffiths acknowledged the attachment to the CNN Center but said, “After the bombing at Oklahoma City, we always were very worried about those railroad tracks underneath [the CNN Center]. Yes, there’s a sentimental attachment to this place, but it’s the right thing to move out of here.”
The move to vacate the CNN Center was announced in 2020, but the plan to move predated the sale of TimeWarner to AT&T and the merger with Discovery Inc.
Moving back to Techwood is a homecoming for CNN, as Ted Turner founded it on those grounds on June 1, 1980. It outgrew its office space and, in 1987, moved downtown to its current home, CNN Center, a place where it would broadcast many monumental moments, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, Gulf War I and II, the Oklahoma City bombings, the start of 9/11, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. CNN Center also served as CNN’s election headquarters until the 2002 Midterm elections.
CNN’s presence in its hometown has diminished over the last two decades, with New York City being the favored location for many of its executives, anchors, and staff.
The entire CNN U.S. programming weekday, from 4 a.m.-11 p.m. ET, currently originates from either New York’s Hudson Yards facility or Washington, D.C., with its weekend morning and mid-afternoon shows continuing to be anchored out of Atlanta.
CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht gutted what was left of HLN’s Atlanta operations in December, and this month announced a reorganization of CNN en Español that will see a lot of its operations being shifted out of Atlanta and Miami in favor of Mexico City and Los Angeles. These moves have contributed to CNN’s diminishing headcount in Atlanta.
The network still has a sizeable behind-the scene presence in Atlanta. Several senior executives are still based there, and many of its administrative, newsgathering, and production operations as well as CNN International and CNN Digital, originate from Georgia’s capital city.
The CNN Center move may be its largest and most complex, but the network has moved its New York operations twice since the start of this century, with the most recent one happening in 2019.
CNN also relocated its London offices in 2020 and will soon move its Los Angeles operations from its famous Hollywood location to Burbank.