CNN Plots Layoffs, Digital Subscription Product Launch

CNN CEO Mark Thompson is finally putting forth broad restructuring plans for the network, planning for digital subscription product launches by the end of 2024 and staff reductions of around 100 employees. 

Thompson outlined his long-awaited digital vision in a memo to staff on Wednesday morning, which included plans to merge all of the network’s newsrooms, build out subscription offerings and lean heavily into digital video. The CEO’s memo to staffers also noted that around 100 roles will be cut in the process. CNN currently operates with a workforce of more than 3,500 staffers. 

“In addition to some new posts and opportunities we have opened up at CNN, we’re also announcing some staff reductions across the company today,” Thompson said. “Wherever possible, we’ve closed open positions rather than target currently occupied roles. However, some of our colleagues will learn today that their jobs are being eliminated or are at risk.”

Aside from workforce eliminations, Thompson’s restructuring plans are wide-reaching, introducing a formal merger of CNN’s three newsrooms which include US Newsgathering (TV), International Newsgathering (TV) and Global Digital News. Longtime CNN executive Virginia Moseley will steer the combined newsroom, responsible for all reporting for CNN platforms. 

Thompson also plans to launch subscriber-first products, with the first launch prior to the end of 2024. While the details of the products were not revealed, Thompson is setting out to create “best-in-class, subscription-ready products that will provide need-to-know news, analysis and context in compelling new formats and experiences,” according to the memo. 

“In the future our digital products need to do a far better job of reflecting CNN’s massive strength in video and anchoring/reporting talent,” Thompson continued. “Video will be at the heart of our future and a re-imagined video experience on every platform – from pure digital to streaming, FAST channels and more – it is essential for CNN’s future.”

Thompson brought in Alex MacCallum earlier this year to spearhead the digital product development and on Wednesday the CEO announced that Ben Monnie, joining from Google, will report to her as SVP of product growth strategy. Monnie also spent 10 years with the New York Times with both Thompson and MacCallum. 

Thompson highlighted that the news media industry is undergoing significant changes in consumption. “To me, the right response to this revolution is not despair but adaptation and innovation,” he said.

Alongside the subscription plans, Thompson announced the creation of TV Futures Lab, which will develop and manage the network’s streaming and VOD programming, which is available on the Max platform. 

Recently, the network relaunched Kate Bolduan’s “5 Things,” series as a test case for the platform. Thompson noted that the program will be expanded and new offerings will be created for the streaming platform. Additionally, the network plans to launch CNN Originals and CNN en Espanol dedicated FAST channels this year. 

Thomson also noted that Charlie Moore, who was recently appointed to oversee primetime programming, will be working with top executive producers to “find ways to further develop and strengthen our domestic primetime offering.” 

Recently, the network has struggled with poor primetime ratings even after hosting the first presidential debate in June. 

“I’ve asked Eric and Charlie to explore how to build on that, increase audience competitiveness and also keep a close eye on production costs,” Thompson added. 

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CNN CEO Mark Thompson is finally putting forth broad restructuring plans for the network, plannin…