Jim Walton Resigning as President of CNN
Will step down at end of year after 10 years leading network
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/27/2012 11:45:02 AM
He will continue in his current role overseeing CNN/U.S., CNN International, HLN and CNN Digital until Dec. 31 and Turner Broadcasting System CEO Phil Kent will lead the search for his replacement.
The management shakeup comes after CNN's primetime ratings hit a 20-year low in May, which has been a source of concern for Kent and other senior management at Time Warner. Walton said in the memo that he had been talking to Kent for "some time" about "wanting to make a change."
"CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through," Walton said.
His exit is not unexpected given the channel's ratings woes, and a source at CNN says Walton's resignation was not voluntary, but driven by Time Warner management needing a response to investors when it releases second-quarter earnings on Aug. 1.
CNN has made small tweaks to its lineup in recent months, such as cancelling John King, USA and changing up its early morning anchors, but sources at the network suggested a change in leadership was needed to turn around the struggling channel. Because of the time required for TV development, announcing Walton's exit now also means his successor could presumably start before the end of the year and work to get new programming on shortly after the November elections.
Walton has been a part of CNN almost since its founding, joining the network in 1981 as a video journalist. From 1996-2000 he was president of the now-defunct CNN/Sports Illustrated channel before being named to his current post in 2003.
Walton's note to staff below:
After more than 30 years at this company and nearly 10 years as the leader of this great news organization, I have decided to leave my role at CNN on December 31, 2012.
For some time, I've been talking with Phil Kent about wanting to make a change, and he supports my decision. I've told Phil that I will cooperate with any transition timeline that he and Time Warner want to implement. Phil requested that I work out the year and be available after that if needed, which I've agreed to do.
I am proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years - innovative programming, the development of great talent in front of and behind the cameras, expansion in digital and mobile, significant investment and expansion in international coverage, financial success and, most importantly, great and trusted journalism. Thank you for the role you have played in our successes.
CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through. And I'm ready for a change. I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.
The next few months will be filled with election news and other important events that will require all of our focus to report the news with the quality and expertise the world expects of CNN. I look forward to working alongside each of you, as I have over the past 30-plus years, to do just that.
CNN suffers from the same disorder as most other broadcast news organizations: Female Arrested Voice and Speech Syndrome (FAVASS). With rare exceptions (e.g., Amanpour and Sawyer), voices and speech are unrefined since early teens. Still nasal, high-pitched, rapid fire and often grammatically challenged, they grate on listeners' ears, trivializing the importance of the content being presented. Speech therapy and remedial English classes are in order.
Irving Smith - 7/27/2012 7:49:12 PM EDT
This is an example of what happens when you do not tell it like it is and instead make the story fit your liberal beliefs. America is turning back to what it was built on and companies like CNN will not be able to survive because they tend to go with the least way of thinking instead of the majority. That is why Fox news is thriving. The people want the truth, Not a twisted story to match the networks agenda or belief.
Elbert Caudill - 7/27/2012 1:10:19 PM EDT
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