The feeling heading into Thursday was the layoffs at CNN and Gannett were going to be bad.
Unfortunately, that feeling turned out to be true.
We’ll get to Gannett in just a moment, but let’s start with CNN.
Deadline’s Ted Johnson wrote that “a couple hundred” employees were impacted. The list of those laid off include political analyst Chris Cillizza, anchor/correspondent Martin Savidge and HLN’s Robin Meade.
In a memo to staff on Thursday (posted on Twitter by CNN’s Oliver Darcy), CNN chief executive Chris Licht wrote, “At the highest level, the goal is to direct our resources to best serve and grow audiences for our core news programming and products. To achieve these goals, we will be reducing open job positions, reimagining our workflows and aligning our staffing, investments and focus around three key strategic priorities: programming, newsgathering and digital. All decisions are designed to strengthen the core of our business.”
HLN, formerly called Headline News, is taking a major hit in this round of cuts. Live original programming is ending on the channel starting on Dec. 6. CNN will simulcast its new “CNN This Morning” on HLN. About Meade, Licht wrote, “I want to take a moment to thank Robin Meade — she is not only an exceptionally popular anchor, but also one of the longest-running morning hosts in history. I know the HLN audience will miss her and the other HLN talent.”
As I mentioned above, Cillizza was one of the more high-profile employees to be let go. He could be a polarizing figure, but I found his work to be solid. He was prolific and thought-provoking. In a tweet, he wrote, “My time at CNN was an absolute blast. I got to work with smart and dedicated journalists every day. I’m sad it’s at an end but also excited about what the future holds for me. Stay turned!”
Another notable cut was Rachel Metz, who tweeted she was CNN’s only AI reporter and the last remaining digital reporter in San Francisco.
Those are just a few of the individual names.
Other changes include CNN International reorganizing some of its teams and bureaus. Its 5 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern show is being replaced by a simulcast of CNN US for that half hour.
As far as CNN en Espanol (CNNE), Licht wrote the network will look to “expand its audience by diversifying the network’s programming beyond news. We will continue to produce news for CNNE, and throughout next year, we will look to develop a far more robust digital platform for CNNE with the aim of launching it in 2024.”
About newsgathering, Licht wrote, “We are restructuring across some of our beats, realigning resources to staff up in some units and in more areas around the country. This will help us deliver on our goal of covering the United States more broadly. Many of the staff reductions in Newsgathering will be offset by the addition of new roles to best serve our audience across platforms.”
Another move CNN is making is reducing the number of paid contributors. Licht wrote that “In some areas, we will rely more on our CNN journalists. Overall, we will engage contributors who are subject-matter experts that expand and diversify the viewpoints we bring our audience.”
Meanwhile, at Gannett
The cuts at Gannett are just as brutal. My Poynter colleague Angela Fu reports that layoffs Thursday and today will amount to about 200. That would be about 6% of the 3,440 in the news division.
Fu wrote, “Journalists started to receive notices Thursday morning. Among those affected were reporters at flagship paper USA Today and producers working on Gannett’s digital optimization team.”
Fu added, “Gannett intends to eliminate all of its DOT regionals, according to an email the company sent to the Atlantic DOT Guild, the union representing producers on the Atlantic team. Though the teams will not be dissolved until Dec. 9, Gannett has already started laying off DOT employees. Fifty of 125 total employees were notified Thursday that their positions had been eliminated.”
This is just the latest bad news at Gannett. As Fu notes, this round of cuts is the third in the past few months. In August, Gannett laid off 400 and eliminated 400 open positions. There was another round of cuts in October, including buyouts, a hiring freeze and the suspension of company contributions to employee 401(k) accounts. In addition, employees also will be required to take a week of unpaid leave over the holidays.
And now for more media tidbits and recommendations for weekend review …
- There were a few tense moments on the set of Thursday’s “CNN This Morning” when co-host Don Lemon compared men’s soccer to women’s soccer. Lemon said, “But the men’s team makes more money. If they make more money, then they should get more money. The men’s team makes more money because people are more interested in the men.” That didn’t go over so well with the two other co-hosts — Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Here’s more, including video, from The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona.
- The latest — and quite possibly the best — from The Washington Post’s “Black Out” series on the NFL’s lack of Black coaches: sports columnist Jerry Brewer with “Football is America. We shouldn’t be satisfied with either.” Here’s a particularly astute passage from Brewer: “The NFL, like America, has needed to change for decades. When forced, the league shuffles in that direction, but it doesn’t yield to equality. For 103 seasons, minimal effort has served as a sufficient pacifier for a nation of football junkies.”
- It’s Year-End Lists season. Here’s a good one from The New York Times’ James Poniewozik, Mike Hale and Margaret Lyons: “Best TV Shows of 2022.”
- The Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Netburn with “Strange coincidences: Are they fluke events or acts of God?”
- For The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow with “A Hacked Newsroom Brings a Spyware Maker to U.S. Court.”
- The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer with “QAnon Leader Inadvertently Outs Himself as a Groomer.”
- In a special for the Seattle Times, Chase Hutchinson with “Journalists near and far react to the journalism of ‘Alaska Daily.’”
- ProPublica’s Jeremy Kohler with “St. Louis Can Banish People From Entire Neighborhoods. Police Can Arrest Them if They Come Back.”
- Oklahoma Watch’s Whitney Bryen with “114 Executions and Counting: An Oklahoma Priest’s Quest to Uphold the ‘Dignity of Life.’”
- The Washington Post’s Brittany Shammas with “Parents allege ‘overly punitive’ Stanford discipline led to soccer star’s suicide.”
- For The Ringer, Michael Tedder writes fondly about the Fleetwood Mac star who died this week at the age of 79: “Christine McVie Made Fleetwood Mac Fun.”
- And finally, one more from The Ringer. It’s the holiday season and that means holiday movies. The Ringer claims there will be 169 original holiday movies available to watch this Christmas season. So writer Jodi Walker is watching one a day and will report back to see if the movie follows the formula. It starts with an introduction: “Introducing the 25 Days of Bingemas.”
More resources for journalists
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- How to Cover Gun Violence and the Gun Debate in America — Start anytime.
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