CNN faces disturbing news in uncertain times

Good morning I’ll be on duty for the next few days so the Poynter report is taking a short break and will be back next Tuesday. Now for today’s report.

It looks like big changes are coming for CNN. And not in a good way.

CNN chairman Chris Licht sent a memo to staff on Wednesday, writing that a “tangible change” was on the way. The memo came just hours after CNBC’s Alex Sherman reported that budget cuts and layoffs are expected before the end of the year.

In his memo to staff, Licht wrote: “There is widespread concern about the global economic outlook and we need to incorporate this risk into our long-term planning. All this together will mean a noticeable change in this organization. This is disturbing by definition. These changes will not be easy as they impact people, budgets and projects.”

Sherman wrote, “Light has no specific orders to cut a specific number of jobs or save a specific percentage of expenses. But he plans to trim portions of CNN that have become bloated over time, (sources) said.”

Benjamin Mullin of The New York Times wrote: “S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that CNN will have approximately $882 million in operating expenses this year. Even cutting that budget by a single-digit percentage would eliminate millions of dollars and potentially dozens of jobs from the network.”

It’s been a pretty turbulent year for CNN. It started with Jeff Zucker being in charge, but he was eventually fired after failing to disclose that he was in a relationship with one of his top executives. CNN ended up being part of a sale and is now under the Warner Bros. Discovery umbrella.

Low viewership shut down ambitious streaming service CNN+ less than a month after its launch. And CNN appears to be shifting its focus to become more centrist in its reporting, which has led to high-profile firings from the network, including media reporter and “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter. Additionally, the network recently moved primetime host Don Lemon to a revamped morning show and is seeking a permanent primetime replacement for Chris Cuomo, who was fired late last year for telling his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, assisted in the defense of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Sherman wrote, “(Licht) wants CNN to report stories more like a newspaper and less like Politico, according to people familiar with his mindset. That means more stories the average family would discuss around the dinner table and less obsessive focus on politics. He would like to cover more business, technology and even sports, said people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private.

Here’s an important point: viewership has dropped.

So to sum up, it’s been an upside down year that still has quite a few twists to come. Sherman reported that Warner Bros. Discovery could cut more than 1,000 jobs in total.

Licht took over in May and has spent the last few months getting acquainted with the business, meeting with other CNN executives and working on a game plan for the future.

Licht tried to put a positive spin on his memo by writing, “We will be strategic in this process and minimize the impact on our core operations of news gathering and digital, both of which have already made intelligent changes. Let me be clear: I will not allow these changes to affect our position as the world’s leading news source and we will continue to invest in growth areas. When we complete this process, CNN will still be the largest and most respected news gathering organization in the world. We’ll continue to cover any story, anywhere, anytime – with more resources than anyone else. Point.”

(Photo by: zz/John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

Elon Musk has entered the building.

On Wednesday the richest person in the world tweeted a video of himself holding a sink — yes, you read that right — and writing, “Enter Twitter HQ — let that sink in!”

leave it bathroom sink in … understood?

Shortly after, he changed the bio to “Chief Twit” on his Twitter page.

It’s good that he can build electric cars, because he probably won’t make it as a comedian.

All of this comes ahead of what will (finally) be a deal for Musk to buy the social media platform for $44 billion. The deal has to be closed by Friday or it goes back to court. Wednesday’s activity indicates that the deal will go through.

In an email obtained by CNN, Leslie Berland, Twitter’s chief marketing officer, told staff: “As you will soon see or hear, Elon is at the SF office this week to meet with people who walking the hallways and continuing to delve into the important work that you all do. If you’re in SF and see him, say hello! For everyone else, this is just the beginning of many meetings and conversations with Elon.”

This is a nervous time for these employees. The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin, Faiz Siddiqui, Gerrit De Vynck, and Jeremy B. Merrill reported last week that “Musk told potential investors in his deal to buy the company that he plans to sell nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 employees.” getting rid of company reduced to a basic workforce of just over 2,000.”

It’s been almost two years to the day since I wrote an article asking, “Why do newspapers still make policy recommendations?”

It was less than a month before the 2020 election and newspaper editors across the country were writing endorsements for various political races, including the President of the United States. Knowing that endorsements probably angered and alienated half of the readership and had a diminishing influence, I asked several Editorial Page editors why newspapers bother with endorsements at all?

I spoke to opinion editors at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, the Boston Globe, and the Orlando Sentinel. All three defended the practice, with the Star Tribune’s Scott Gillespie telling me at the time: ‘If a newspaper chooses to have an editorial voice representing the institution, it should take its leadership seriously. We publish more than 400 editorials from our Editorial Board. It would be a forfeit of that leadership to suspend elections. We also want to be widely read and relevant, and our recommendations generate readers and encourage healthy debate – on our website and no doubt around kitchen and dining room tables.”

In the two years since, however, many newspapers have stopped making endorsements. Earlier this year, Alden Global Capital said its publications – which include the Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News – would no longer endorse candidates for President, Governor and Senate .

Data shows that in 2008, 92% of the country’s top 100 newspapers (by circulation) supported a candidate. By 2020, that number had dropped to 54%.

The Associated Press’s David Bauder wrote this week about how endorsements fade. Carol Hunter, Editor-in-Chief of the Des Moines Register, told Bauder: “I think it can be argued in many cases that they have outlived their usefulness due to increasing polarization and skepticism from the media in general. I don’t think that’s a healthy trend. But I think that’s the reality.”

My Poynter colleague Rick Edmonds remarked to Bauder that some readers don’t like being told what to do and some newspapers have adopted a “don’t do the boat” mentality.

In any case, look for fewer endorsements over time. That’s actually a pity. As Mike Lafferty, who was the Orlando Sentinel editorial page editor in 2020, told me at the time, “The purpose of editorials is to express institutional opinions, often about laws and policies that affect people. It seems natural that we also express institutional opinions about the people who apply to make these laws and shape these policies.”

Republican candidate for New York governor Lee Zeldin, left, participates in a debate against incumbent Democratic governor Kathy Hochul hosted by Spectrum News on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

Spectrum’s NY1 hosted the New York governor’s debate on Tuesday.

But NY1 was not mentioned in the original print edition of The New York Times. This angered NY1 presenter Pat Kiernan. On the air, said Kiernan, “The Times reporters and editors seem to have made every effort, not to mention Spectrum, not to mention that New York 1 hosted the debate, they anonymously refer to the moderators in this article. … This is not the first time this has happened.”

He also said: “I’m not happy, I don’t think they play fair here and that has happened repeatedly.”

Of the video posted to Twitter, Kiernan wrote: “Every day on TV I recognize the good work of the folks at @nytimes. Is it too much to ask that they do the same?”

As it turned out, his message was received and understood. And tight.

Just a few hours after Kiernan made his complaint, Dean Chang, Metro deputy editor/politician at The New York Times, tweeted to Kiernan: “Pat, that was an oversight in the heat to meet a print deadline. We love NY1 and have made numerous references to NY1 on our live blog. We have now added references to NY1 and the moderators to the takeaway story on the web.”

Chang then linked to the Times online story, which credited NY1 and debate moderators Susan Arbetter and Errol Louis.

Kiernan tweeted back“Guess the answer.”

Leah Worthington with The Young Woman Behind a Last Mystery of the Green River Killer for The New York Times.

The latest from The Washington Post’s ‘Black Out’ series on the lack of diversity among NFL head coaches. In this piece, it’s Emily Giambalvo with “How NFL teams use Black coaches to clean your chaos.”

National Geographic with “25 breathtaking places and experiences for 2023”.

Do you have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter Senior Media Writer Tom Jones at [email protected]

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