Tuesday, July 23, 2024

More woes for the media industry as CNN to cut 100 jobs

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CNN will cut an estimated 100 jobs as part of a major strategy shift to consolidate its news operations and strengthen its digital media presence, leadership told staff in an internal memo viewed by news outlets.

“We are building a billion dollar+ digital business of the future,” CNN Worldwide CEO Mark Thompson reportedly wrote in the memo, made public on Wednesday.

CNN plans to merge its news gathering and digital news teams, launch a unit to produce content for its partnership with streamer Max and other digital channels, centralize its pitching process, eliminate divisions between its US and international teams, and launch paid subscription products centered around its website, according to the memo.

“We will develop new digital products with a special focus on digital experiences worth paying for,” the memo reads.

The subscription product, launching on CNN.com, is expected by the end of this year, with a focus on lifestyle and feature content.

Despite hosting the recent presidential debate, CNN has struggled in recent years to attract TV viewers, and is planning a shift to more digital offerings (AP)

Despite hosting the recent presidential debate, CNN has struggled in recent years to attract TV viewers, and is planning a shift to more digital offerings (AP)

The cuts are a substantial percentage of CNN’s roughly 3,500-person workforce.

The cuts are the latest blow to the media workforce, where nearly 2,000 jobs have been cut across the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada this year, according to the Press Gazette.

At CNN, the network has also faced its lowest primetime viewership in a decade, as customers continue to switch to streaming services.

It’s been clear the network would shift gears for months.

Thompson, a former executive at the BBC and the New York Times, where he helped the paper grow its subscriber base tenfold in a shift to digital, told staff when he joined CNN last fall that the company’s landmark TV offerings “can no longer define us,” and that CNN was “nowhere near ready for the future.”

In some circles, CNN is seen as behind the curve, with other competitors like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox News having invested in news offerings on digital channels ranging from Amazon’s Fire portal to YouTube.

CNN will be hoping to avoid the fate of CNN+, a $100m digital streaming service it launched in 2022, which was shuttered a month after it launched.

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