Surprising no one, WarnerMedia announced it is selling CNN Center, CNN’s longtime headquarters in Atlanta. Whether there will be layoffs was punted on.
“Following the sale of the CNN Center, we plan to centralize most of our employees on the Techwood campus,” Pascal Desroches, the chief financial officer for WarnerMedia, wrote in an internal memo. “This process will take several years, so we don’t expect any immediate changes for employees working at the CNN Center.”
The Techwood campus is also in Atlanta, about two miles from CNN Center.
Sale deliberations were put on hold “until the completion of the merger” between AT&T and Time Warner, Desroches wrote. “Now that we’ve had time to further evaluate, we’ve concluded that the best course of action is to sell the CNN Center.” But “this move in no way should suggest that WarnerMedia is less committed to Atlanta,” he continued. “Similar to Hudson Yards in Manhattan and the announcement of new office space in Los Angeles at Ivy Station, we feel the long-term benefit of being in one location will be a more collaborative workforce.”
CNN has erected some sort of barrier fencing following the violent protests outside of CNN Center, the network’s Atlanta headquarters, roughly three weeks prior. The day after the protests, network president Jeff Zucker said in a memo to staffers, “The CNN letters still stand proud outside the building this morning, despite the damage, and will be repaired today.”
And it was.
And now, CNN has put a barrier up around the iconic letters, keeping people away.
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker sent a memo to CNN staffers this morning, letting them know that everyone is safe who was inside the CNN Center last night during the protest. Although some of the protesters were clearly targeting CNN, (some yelled “fuck CNN,” and defaced CNN’s property), there is also an Atlanta police department precinct inside the CNN Center, which many are pointing to as the reason the protesters had their sights on CNN’s Atlanta headquarters.
According to CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter, Zucker wrote, “The CNN letters still stand proud outside the building this morning, despite the damage, and will be repaired today.” According to a source, the iconic CNN letters have already been repainted over.
“This has been a difficult week. Understandably, emotions are raw. The pain is real. All of this against the backdrop of a global pandemic that we cannot forget, either. I want to thank the entire organization for its collective sense of purpose. CNN has never been more essential. CNN has never been stronger,” Zucker concluded.
Due to the unrest overnight, latenight anchor Natalie Allen announced she wouldn’t be covering her usual CNN Newsroom shift due to the disturbances outside CNN Center and throughout Atlanta. Additionally, HLN Morning Express weatherman Bob Van Dillen commented, “Watching my workplace get trashed . . . just pray no body dies tonight in Atlanta.”
Citing the chaos unfolding outside of CNN Center in Atlanta, veteran CNN International anchor Natalie Allen won’t be going into work to anchor CNN Newsroom, she announced late Friday evening on Facebook. Earlier, while reporter Nick Valencia was live on Cuomo Prime Time, a flash bang was tossed inside the entrance of CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, causing police to have the CNN crew go further back for their safety.
Allen wrote, “I won’t be anchoring my show this [Saturday] morning due to protests in downtown Atlanta. It’s not safe to try and go to CNN downtown. Pls watch our coverage and I hope to see you Sunday morning. Hope and pray for calm.”
A large group of individuals protesting the George Floyd death have begun protesting outside CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, the CNN Center. Police deployed mace at one point to try and disperse the crowd, according to local reporter Matt Johnson of WSB. The individuals, as seen in the video below, are defacing the iconic CNN sign as well as jumping on it.
Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, during a news conference, spoke directly to the protesters: “You have defaced the CNN building. [Founder] Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta, 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city.”
So far, CNN has yet to comment officially on the matter.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with John Camacho, a 21-year veteran based in CNN Center Atlanta who serves as a senior engineer for the network, to discuss how things are functioning during the coronavirus pandemic.
Explaining he is working on part of a 4-person team, he said, “We are the maintenance and engineers who keep CNN on air. Some aspects of the equipment cannot be remotely controlled offsite. If a camera fails and you need to bring in another camera or repair that camera before the next show, we are there. If the database or the server itself fails, you have to physically be there to repair that system.”
Camacho is working a drastically different, busier schedule than his normal, he explains to THR. “My normal schedule is Wednesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with 30 minutes for lunch. Now I’m working Thursday through Sunday, doing four twelves.” He added, “But with this pandemic, it’s almost like everyone is on their toes to make sure every piece of equipment is running. I’ll give you an example, CNN has two control rooms but they created another backup control room just in case the second control room is contaminated. So we have to make sure that control room has all the content and all the video bugs that you see on the screen.”
Speaking of management, Camacaho said, “And [CNN has] been very good at making sure that if we’re there, we’re being fed. They are really at it when it comes to making sure the crew gets taken care of.”
A week ago, CNN president Jeff Zucker praised staffers like Camacho, effusively saying they were “the glue that keeps us on the air and all together.”
CNN International weekend anchor Rick Folbaum, who has been freelancing with the network for almost a year, has left. Folbaum was anchoring for CNN from Atlanta at the CNN Center.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he is joining CBS46 Atlanta as their lead anchor for the evening news, fronting the 4pm, 6pm and 11pm newscasts. He is filling the shoes of former cable news anchor Thomas Roberts, who just left the station.
“I am thrilled to be joining the great team of journalists at CBS46,” Folbaum said in a press release. “I can’t wait to get to work.”
Steve Doerr, the news director at CBS46, praised Folbaum’s “decades of network and large market anchoring experience. He’ll do a terrific job.”
Wasting no time, he begins next week.
Mohammed Elshamy has been with CNN about six months — and that’s all longer it’ll be.
Elshamy was, as of about an hour ago, a CNN photo editor based in the network’s headquarters in Atlanta. Earlier today, old tweets resurfaced of the photographer, saying awful, anti-Semitic things, such as calling people “Jewish pigs,” as well as celebrating a terrorist attack in 2011 at a bus stop in Jerusalem, as reported by Mediaite.
Under pressure, he has resigned.
In a statement provided to CNN’s Brian Stelter, a spokesperson with the network said, “The network has accepted the resignation of a photo editor, who joined CNN earlier this year, after anti-Semitic statements he’d made in 2011 came to light.”