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Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Fortunes Are News

Could it be Mr. Walton is trying to prepare his troops for the disappointment of falling ad revenues? Here is his letter to the CNN staff published by TVNewswer today.

April 12, 2010
To: CNN Staff
From: Jim Walton


Tomorrow morning, CNN will host a Newsmakers presentation for the advertising community in New York. In panel discussions featuring CNN journalists from across the organization, we will talk broadly about our vision, our strengths and our multi-platform reach. I'm writing to tell you about it because you may see follow-up press coverage on the event and CNN.

I should say more press coverage on CNN.

In a few weeks, we will mark 30 years of building a global news business. Being first, reporting as and where stories happen, bringing focus, bringing honor to our profession-all of these also bring us our share of attention. Our fortunes, whether up or down, are news. We are experiencing a down period in one segment of our business, CNN/U.S. prime time. Critics have taken note and are offering all manner of suggestions for how to "fix" CNN. What's missing from these reports is an essential component of our journalism: context.

CNN/U.S. prime time is a high-profile piece of a much larger story. Its advertising revenue accounts for less than 10 percent of CNN's worldwide revenue; the remaining 90 percent comes from non-prime time programming on the network, as well as HLN,, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, CNN Airport Network and all of the other CNN-branded news and information platforms that together deliver more news to more people than any other news organization in the world. So when Anderson Cooper reports live from Haiti in prime time on U.S. linear television, his ratings matter to us. But so do his numbers on our international networks, online, on mobile devices, in airports and hotel rooms, to our more than 1,000 affiliate partners and in all the other places and ways that people around the world access his smart, unbiased, leading journalism.

That we manage a portfolio of successful news platforms is a CNN difference and a distinct competitive advantage. Despite operating a cyclical business in a time of economic, political, technological and social change perhaps never seen in such magnitude, CNN has grown its profit year over year by more than 10 percent for six consecutive years. WeĆ¢€™ve continued the newsgathering investment that ensures our immediacy and relevance. Our innovation in the social media space with partners including Facebook, YouTube and Apple is bringing the next generation of news consumers to the CNN brand. And our U.S. audience remains larger by millions than that of any other cable news network.

I understand the concern of some of our critics. I even agree with some of what they are saying. Because people trust us and depend on us, they hold CNN to a higher standard. We will continue to evolve where we need to, just as we always have. Meanwhile, news will happen around the world and we'll report it. CNN/U.S. and each of the CNN networks and businesses will remain essential in moments that matter. We will stay true to our strategy, values and journalistic integrity. We will not be partisan or beholden to any political or ideological agenda. We will do and be just fine.

That's the story we're telling tomorrow. It's a good one. I wanted you to hear it first, and again. Have a good day.

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Anonymous said...

Jim Walton seems also to be in denial, calling Klein brilliant and a "great journalist." Is anyone at CNN ever going to get REAL about what is happening??
According to TVN, their brightest spot on their prime dial is 360, and AC was beaten in a REPEAT by Olberman this past Monday. Doesn't Walton recognize that his talent and I mean that in a collective sense of all CNN talent, is NOT talented enough?? Someone there has to recognize there is a problem and telling us "Whether we're up or down, we are still news," is simply more denial.

Anonymous said...

CNN has to fix the 8 pm hour before it is too
late. The numbers are going lower and lower.
Considering that Campbell and Larry finished
4th it is amazing that Anderson ended up being
the top show. Jon Klein has managed to ruin
Wolf Blitzer's career by having him follow 4 hrs
of nothing. Does anyone in management know
what Ali says in the beginning of his show. It
is something like he will help you make decisions
about your security, life and finances. That is
so arrogant and does not make any sense.
Go back further at 5 with ratings and it is
a surprise that Anderson got those numbers.
360 seems to be the only show that viewers
have not given up on. The biggest problem
for CNN is the 8pm hour. Campbell Brown
is too weak for the 1st show in prime time.
The decisions made for Campbell, Ali and
Rick Sanchez is what lead to CNN's troubles.

Anonymous said...

If CNN is really committed to the news, let's
see them drop the pundits from the prime time
shows. People have clearly soured on ideology
on CNN.I am betting that if CNN has no pundits,
which would truly set them apart from the others.
Right now CNN looks like it is doing the same
things they did 20 years ago and has no idea
what to do in the 21st century.CNN is not evolving.
I say give John King , Candy Crowley and Wolf
Blitzer a pass since they do political shows but
during the other hours of the day don't use
pundits for news items outside of politics.
That makes me think you don't take journalism
seriously since you are blurring the lines and
dumbing down the news.

Anonymous said...

360's obsession the tea party and Sarah
Palin has lead me to change to the repeat
of Countdown not able to watch 360 tonight.
So much for CNN being the news alternative.
There is no news on 360 tonight.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:46PM: There was no news on 360 tonite and for pure punishment, my news directive is that BOTH Jim Walton and Jon Klein be FORECED to watch ALL of their programming straight through from the morning 360. And speaking of which, since 360 WAS the only watchable show, I guess the suits decided to kill off that one as well, because tonite, yes it was UNWATCHABLE. Congratulations CNN, it is now 100%

Anonymous said...

360 was horrible last night. Look I get that
they would like to give a boost to John King
and Candy Crowlley but is having a yap fest
with 5 people talking really necessary. Here
we go again management just can't leave
360 alone and try turning it into a political
show. Not having any news is ridiculous
right after Larry King. TV Week has an article
about CNN. It turns out CNN is not loosing
money as these people so wrongly theorize.
TV Week points out the talk of CNN's demise
just is not accurate.So if CNN is making money
and had it's most profitable year why panic
and listen to people who want nothing but
politics on the news and not facts. I am with
Ted Koppel , the news is a disaster and you
would think CNN would not resort to this.
CNN does not need to be FNC or MSNBC.
Apparently, CNN does not get that people
watch them for news. 360 is not the
show CNN needs to fix. It was doing fine
until micro-managing ruined everything
by trying to make all of the show the same.
Each show should have it's own identity.
He have a feeling the ratings will be low
and they should be if you disrespect viewers
the way CNN does.

Anonymous said...

CNN is in trouble for allowing itself to be used
to spread hate and propaganda. This weekend
they aired a doc on the budget deficit but failed
to report that the deficit is actually down for the
first half this year by 8 %. Also, in the first election
since health care passage, a democrat held on
to a house seat in Florida. Of course you never
saw these stories on CNN and they expect us to
believe they give us the story straight. I found
out these stories on Twitter. Which means Twitter
is better at bringing us more news than CNN.
Now this weekend a doc on the guy who flew
the plane into the IRS building in Texas. So
if you are an extremist you increase you
chances of appearing on CNN because they
are so desperate for ratings that the will
do anything without thinking about the
consequences and dropping any common
sense and asking what are we doing?
CNN is embracing the Tea Party because Palin
told them not to criticize and Sarah Palin must
be on the Time Warner board because they
must carry her live everyday.CNN will not be
satisfied until they have no viewers.At the
rate they are going they will accomplish that
fairly soon.CNN is just negative and hateful
who wants to watch that; Like there were
not any good stories that happen each day.
Well at least you won't hear about it on CNN.
The game plan : imitate Fox because if they
get ratings we should do the same thing.
Only one thing is one with this plan :if you
do the same as the others how do you set
yourself apart from the others. Imitating
Fox will not work for CNN and viewers keep
trying to tell them.

Anonymous said...

I found it odd that Katie Couric interviewed Al Pacino about his lead role playing Dr.Death, for 60 Minutes this week, yet AC was the one who actually interviewed him. Maybe it's because CBS decided that Katie would interview the actor and Anderson would interview the actual person.
Looking forward to viewing it on HBO when it finally airs.

Anonymous said...

Read in todays sunday NYT that Ali is selling his NYC apartment and is moving permanently to Atlanta where he also anchors a weekend show for CNN. He is not too thrilled to be moving to Atlanta.
IMHO, he's lucky he has a job.