CNN DC bureau cuts

FTVLive is reporting that around fifteen DC employees were cut. This isn’t really surprising, in light of the Turner buyouts coming to CNN Center, and the cuts to the CNNPolitics division earlier.

Word is that around 15 people were sent packing, including CNN Political Reporter Shannon Travis, Booking Producer Stephanie Kotuby and Opinion Editor Bryan Monroe.

Also gone is Paul Steinhauser, who has covered national campaigns. He is headed to start up NH1 as a news anchor and political director starting Jan. 1.

The Paul Steinhauser story shouldn’t be new to anyone; that was something I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Turner to offer buyouts

The news is grim for the employees at CNN Center, and it has been said that many of the workers in Atlanta are very nervous about their futures. And as more news comes out from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it only sounds worse.

The buyout offers will go to nearly 7 percent of Turner’s 9,000 or so U.S. employees, one executive said.

About a third of the buyout offers will be at CNN. The offers are being made to all employees who are 55 or older and have a certain number of years of service with the company. Participation is voluntary, they said.

Involuntary job cuts will be made later this year, but the number will depend in part on how many employees take the buyouts, they said.

For the sake of the younger employees, hopefully the older ones bite the bullet and take the buyouts.

The article went on to have the normal talking points about Zucker not planning on relocating CNN’s headquarters.

Turner and CNN’s top leadership is largely based in New York as are many of the news network’s anchors. CNN recently moved weekday daytime talent such as Brooke Baldwin and Carol Costello to Manhattan.

But CNN chief Zucker, who’s been at the helm since early 2013, said last year that Atlanta will remain the home and “backbone” of CNN.

Ferguson and the Death of HLN

This week, most of the news coverage has focused in on Ferguson, Missouri. While news organizations haven’t necessarily gone wall-to-wall on this story like they did on Trayvon Martin for example, there has been a overwhelming amount of attention. MSNBC had their resident conflict-of-interest, Rev. Al Sharpton, in the city while Chris Hayes was there as well. Fox News added an additional hour of live coverage at 11 while CNN sent their top anchors to the region. CNN scraped plans to air The Sixties all week in favor of a second hour of Anderson Cooper 360.

However, HLN has not been covering the Michael Brown story with the same intensity as the other news organizations. Actually, HLN rarely covers stories with the same intensity unless it takes place in a courtroom. So, if you wanted to hear the news besides Ferguson, you would think that you could go to HLN, right? Nope, HLN is too focused on other “major” news stories. But wait, on their frontpage right now, there is breaking news! Yes, we’re finally getting somewhere. This is the HLN that Ted Turner started. The breaking news, “COMING TO AN INVITE NEAR YOU: PAY-TO-EAT WEDDINGS.”

Oh good grief.

This column was originally supposed to focus in on the Ferguson story, since the coverage is the latest hot trend for media critics. However, this week’s news about HLN holding talks with The Blaze and the scoop this morning that Robin Meade will be heading to New Day upended all of this.

HLN has always been the second-thought when it comes to the news properties of Turner Broadcasting. It exists in the shadow of its big brother, CNN. Like a younger brother, it could theoretically be as good as its older brother (HLN and CNN share news gathering capabilities), but it isn’t. HLN has always been the kid in the family either doing something unique or trying to “find itself.” It does it quietly and oftentimes we forget it’s there.

HLN was originally started on January 1, 1982, less than two years after CNN. The only reason we have HLN is because of a little-known entity called Satellite News Channel. SNC was built up as the David that would take on the Goliath known as CNN. The cable channel had the news operations of both ABC News (which at the time delivered news other than “Wait Until You See ‘Jerry Maguire’ Child Star Jonathan Lipnicki Now!“) and Westinghouse Broadcasting, best known for their slogan, “Give us 18 minutes, we’ll give you the world.”  The difference between CNN and SNC was that SNC would have what is known as the jukebox format, or a the same stories rotated over and over. According to Reese Schonfeld’s book, Me and Ted Against the World, Turner felt that if he was going to have competition, he should be himself not somebody else. So, HLN, or CNN2 as it was originally known, was hastily built up to mimic SNC’s format and developed what was called the Headlines News Wheel. Within a half hour, the viewer would know the top stories in topics such as business, lifestyle, and sports. HLN was also intentionally designed to not effectively compete against CNN. For example, HLN focused primarily on domestic news and HLN is only rarely shown overseas. In addition, there would not be any rolling coverage on HLN.

Soon, SNC folded and Turner bought the channel in order to expand his reach. However, he was left with two news channels to compete against one another.

Even though this format had its fans, it would in time limit HLN’s abilities. CNN was able to go wall-to-wall on stories like OJ Simpson and gain huge ratings while HLN kept on giving the top headlines. The good part, though, was that if somebody didn’t want to see about OJ Simpson they could watch HLN.

Nowadays, if I don’t want to watch about the shooting of Michael Brown, I can’t watch HLN and see the latest headlines. I have to go online. HLN has become a mockery of itself as it struggles to become something. It starts off in the morning with a caffeinated dose of news and then ends the day with Dr. Drew and his panel, or the Drew Crew, provide medical analysis that is the equivalent of taking a BuzzFeed quiz to see whether or not you have Aspergers. That is unless it’s a Friday, in which case you should look forward to binge-watching Forensic Files for most of the day. The show ran for over a decade, so they definitely have enough episodes to have marathons and so they do.

Now it seems like CNN’s first competitor will be either closing its doors or turning into something unrecognizable, such as Vice News. This may be for the best as CNN now has other competitors to deal with and can’t afford to be losing precious viewers to a channel that is both friend and foe.

Let’s hope everyone is ready for a cable news landscape of wall-to-wall because HLN was our last hope for a reprieve.

Now, back to Ferguson because that’s all there is.

Tyler is an employee at TKNN.info, helping to run @TKNNPolJungle. His views do not necessarily reflect his employer’s.

Robin Meade to New Day?

Breaking news!

Sources say Morning Express anchor Robin Meade is in serious talks to make the jump from HLN to CNN, where she will become the new co-anchor of New Day. I have also been told HLN is finished and it is only a matter of which organization, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze or Vice News, buys them out.

The situation is still very fluid, and I’m not sure on any specifics at this time (such as when Robin starts, the fate of Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira, etc) – so, stay tuned!

I have reached out to both CNN and HLN for comment, and will update this post as needed.

Is this CNN/USA or CNNI?

If you’ve been watching the overnight CNN Newsroom simulcast, then you probably wondered if you were watching a news show on CNN…or CNN International. If you haven’t seen it this week and don’t know what I’m talking about, then let’s talk about the live bug. On CNN, the live bug is up all day long, whether the press conference is live or if they’re repeating it. It’s a misleading thing to do, but it’s something that has been ushered in during the Zucker era.

This week on the simulcast? The live bug (which both HLN and CNNI use properly) was up for the entire show, a thing that has never been done on CNNI.

Last night, CNNI was replaying the press conference SecDef Chuck Hagel conducted earlier in the day, and the live bug was up. To a normal CNNI viewer, they would think Hagel was actually speaking live.

So why do it?

Zucker and Co. probably decided if they were going to keep this CNN Newsroom simulcast going, it had to at least look similar to a CNN/USA show — and that means the irresponsible use of the live bug.

Come on, Team CNN International. Don’t be pressured by CNN to do the wrong thing.

Who’s captaining this sinking ship?

Just curious… Who’s running the show here? Friday afternoon, Sally Kohn broke the news that she, SE Cupp, Kelly Wallace, and Michaela Angela would be hosting a new Saturday show from 3-4p ET. As I did my best to get some concrete details (the studio, show name), I was told the show had actually been “postponed”. Considering the show was postponed not five hours after it was announced, it begs the question… Who’s running the show? Did a few rogue producers just decide to slot a show without clearing it with the CNN execs? That’s obviously not what happened (they would need some sort of approval), but why was it pulled so quickly?

And then, this morning, Jim Clancy tweeted his usual show rundown, informing viewers when he would be on and what to expect on his show (he claimed he would be anchoring the iDesk).

He said:

But who was actually on? Becky Anderson, returning from a month vacation. The Sunday 10-10:30aET slot has been called (on CNN.com and my guide) Connect the World with Becky Anderson, but it usually ends up just being an iDesk, with Connect the World airing at 11aET (which is its normal weekday slot). I’m not really sure why Becky has two CTW slots on Sunday, but I digress.

The point is… someone led Jim to believe he would be anchoring. I mean, he even knew what he would be talking about. So, what gives?

(Note: I am in no way complaining about Becky… the more Becky, the better!)

(Note 2: I am not blaming Jim — someone told him he was doing a show, so he was prepping for it. I was calling out whoever misled him)

Let’s Hear It for Wolf Blitzer

Earlier this week, Allan wrote a post critical of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. He claimed that CNN’s Lead Political Anchor was appearing too much with his three regularly scheduled hours and the two additional hours filling in for Anderson Cooper. However, I disagree. Five hours of Wolf is fine, I would even like more!

I started watching CNN when I was in second grade. This was my first introduction to some of the top journalists of the past few years. I saw Wolf, Soledad O’Brien, and John King. Soon, I would start watching Larry King in addition and kept up with him until his show unfortunately ended. As I was watching CNN’s coverage, little second grader me was hooked. The graphics, the music that came on for projections, and it all seemed so well done. Of course, a large part of that is because of Wolf. He was the main man, he showed the latest results, announced projections, and handled live hits and interviews.

The next day, there wasn’t election coverage, it was a regular Wednesday. However, Wolf Blitzer was still on to my delight. It was the first time I got to The Situation Room and I loved it. I haven’t stopped watching since. Over the years, The Situation Room has changed repeatedly in terms of length, from one hour to three hours to two hours, one-and-a-half and so on. Even its scheduling changed as it went back and forth from early primetime (filling the void after Lou Dobbs quit) to the afternoon (4 PM). No matter what, I was watching at those various times.

As I grew up, my love of CNN and Wolf Blitzer never ceased, if anything it grew. My frequent watching of CNN caused my siblings to learn about CNN and begin watching it. Of course, Wolf Blitzer was the one they knew about the most and one of the most frequent people they saw. Wolf Blitzer was appointment viewing in my house. There wasn’t much that we all did together because of varying schedules, but Wolf brought us together.

Previous generations had Walter Cronkite as the bearer of news. He was there to inform us of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and happier news, such as the Apollo 11. Eventually, Cronkite got the nickname of Uncle Walter, since he was a part of the viewer’s family. In my family, it’s Uncle Wolf.

Many people, especially online, have criticized Wolf for a perceived lack of emotion and say that he is flat when delivering the news. Not only can Wolf have fluctuation in his voice, his straight delivery can be reassuring. After a disaster, people are emotionally distraught, however Wolf does not appear to be so. He shows that everything is alright or it will get better, he is a stable source of strength.

Wolf is 66 years young (but he looks great for his age!), so in a few years he may decide to step back and spend time with his family. He has the right to do that and he certainly deserves to be able to. Although, family is why I hope he puts off retirement for many years- because he is a part of mine.

Tyler is an employee at TKNN.info, helping to run @TKNNPolJungle. His views are not necessarily held by his employer.