The Turner Broadcasting executive shuffle continued with CNN titular chief
Tom Johnson now heading for the exit.
Johnson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CNN News, is retiring from the network. He will remain a consultant, though that often is a device companies use to tax-efficiently dole out severance pay.
In a brief internal memo, Johnson, 59, told CNN staffers
he was retiring to be able to spend time with his family in California. 'It is
time for me to go watch a beautiful new granddaughter, Brynn Edwina, grow up in
faraway San Francisco,' he wrote. 'It is time for a workaholic to escape the
stress of work before stress gets me.'
Johnson is not being replaced. The network's most senior
executives CNN Newsgroup President and COO Phil Kent and Chief News Executive
Eason Jordan will now report directly to Kellner.
Following is the text from memos sent to CNN staff by Kellner and Johnson:
Earlier today, Tom Johnson shared with me his plans to
step down later this year as chairman and chief executive officer of the CNN
News Group in order to spend more time with his family and devote his
considerable energies to personal interests. He will serve as a consultant
and advisor to me and to the organization during a period of transition.
Those of you who have had the privilege of working closely with Tom over the
past decade know what a vital role he has played in CNN's remarkable growth and
achievement. His vision, dedication and leadership are part of the fabric
of the organization. For me, Tom epitomizes journalistic integrity and
CNN's commitment to the highest principles of the profession. He is also a
world-class executive, as reflected in the senior management team he has
assembled and empowered. With Phil Kent and Eason Jordan at the helm of
the organization, CNN will continue to earn, on a daily basis, its well-deserved
reputation as the world's news leader.
We all owe Tom a tremendous debt. He has been a generous mentor, a
graceful leader and a loyal friend. The greatest tribute we as colleagues
can pay him is to carry forward his standards, his work ethic and his passion
for the news organization he has helped to build.
Today I announce my retirement as chairman and CEO of CNN. I do so as
an excellent new executive leadership team is now in place at TBS and CNN.
At almost 60, it is time for me to spend more time in California with our
daughter, Christa, her husband, Bill, our son, Wyatt, and his longtime
It is time for me to go watch a beautiful new granddaughter, Brynn Edwina,
grow up in faraway San Francisco.
It is time for me to go travel with Edwina, my incredible globe-trotting wife
of 38 terrific years.
It is time for a workaholic to escape the stress of work before stress gets
It has been my genuine honor to have served with you during these past 10
years. I am so grateful to my hero, Ted Turner, for the opportunity of a
lifetime. I have loved working with him.
As CEO of AOL/TW, Jerry Levin consistently has supported me and has
championed editorial excellence and journalistic integrity. He will continue to
Two other special friends deserve special mention: Joan Klunder, my
assistant of 22 years, who saw the wisdom of retiring last year; and Ashley Van
Buren, my 'human dynamo' assistant, who has been incredibly loyal to me for 11
years. Without them, I would never have made it! No words can
describe adequately my gratitude to them, and to you.
The successes of CNN have been your successes. For more than 20 years,
you have built the most respected brand in television news.
CNN is the best because of your efforts, your sacrifices, your blood, sweat
and tears. You are a splendid group of dedicated professionals.
You always strive to be the very best at what you do -- without arrogance,
without bias, without malice. You never stop trying to do better.
Nobody can ask for more.
Thank you for everything, especially your loyalty and so many personal
friendships. Please provide Jamie Kellner, Garth Ancier, Phil Kent, Eason
Jordan and all the new leaders with your strongest support as CNN enters a
dynamic new chapter in its already incredible history.
With much respect and love for all of you.