Mark Whitaker out, Chris Cuomo in as Jeff Zucker shakes up CNN
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Former NBC chief Jeff Zucker is shaking things up at CNN, in just about the ways you would expect (and CNN surely did when the network hired him).
Mark Whitaker, the network's executive vice president and managing editor for the past two years, has resigned.
TV Newser has the scoop and the memo, in which Whitaker told staff his decision resulted directly from the arrival of Zucker:
For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff. I have shared that conclusion with him and he has agreed to let me step down as Managing Editor and move on from CNN.
As someone who worked with Jeff at NBC, I know what a bold innovator he is, and I wish him and you all the best as you embark on CNN’s next great adventure.
“Chris is an accomplished anchor who is already an established name in morning television, as well as a widely respected investigative journalist,” said Zucker, in a statment. “What I love about Chris is that he is passionate about every story he tells, never forgets about the viewer, and represents the type of journalism that makes CNN great.”
CNN has been struggling to improve its ratings, and Zucker is the linchpin of the plan. He also recently poached ESPN's Rachel Nichols to host a new weekend sports show and is said to be eyeing his former NBC colleague Ann Curry.
But TMZ poured a little cold water on those reports today with some new gossip:
Ann Curry ain't gonna be the next Anderson Cooper ... or Erin Burnett ... or even Piers Morgan ... 'cause TMZ has learned Jeff Zucker has NO INTEREST in offering her a prime time anchor job at CNN.
Well-connected network sources tell us ... reports that Zucker is courting Curry to be the next CNN star couldn't be further from the truth. Fact is, Zucker doesn't believe Curry is the answer to CNN's problems and is continuing the search elsewhere.
And FishbowlDC reports that CNN is parting ways with five contributors, including James Carville, Mary Matalin and Erick Erickson, who is headed to Fox News.
In other news...
Last night's New Republic relaunch party at Chris Hughes SoHo pied-a-terre was a "who's who of New York media figures." [The Huffington Post]
Debunking TNR's alleged Jewish purge. [New York/Daily Intel]
The New York Times managed enough buyouts to keep layoffs to a minimum. [NYT/Media Decoder]
Rupert Murdoch's mea culpa for a "grotesque" Sunday Times cartoon. [The New York Times]
The resurrection of Valleywag. [Silicon Alley Insider]
BuzzFeed is moving into the events space. [BuzzFeed]
J-school grads can now expect $41,000 starting salaries. [Poynter]
Quote of the day...
Is there something about the ownership, tradition, structure and personnel of the British press that breeds a unique recidivism in which we seem doomed to experience what the economists call a negative multiplier effect – every reform provoked by some abuse is followed by still grosser offences and, if we are to believe the defenders of the status quo, by still more extreme reformist assaults on the sacred freedom of the press bequeathed to us from time immemorial etc.?
So far Zucker's hires have been from broadcast or, in Rachel Nichols case, have broad following..no cable players yet..widening CNN appeal— Peter Lauria (@peterlauria3) January 29, 2013
Similar to the Boston Globe, the NYT is looking for startups to work here:nytimes.com/timespace/— Christine Haughney (@chaughney) January 29, 2013
On "Today" this morning, Al Gore defended selling Current TV to Al Jazeera:
From our inbox...
The full CNN announcement on hiring Chris Cuomo:
Award-winning anchor and investigative reporter Chris Cuomo is joining CNN. He will have a major role in a new CNN morning show and across the network, anchoring and reporting on major events, it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide.
“Chris is an accomplished anchor who is already an established name in morning television, as well as a widely respected investigative journalist,” said Zucker. “What I love about Chris is that he is passionate about every story he tells, never forgets about the viewer, and represents the type of journalism that makes CNN great.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity to do what I value the most and hopefully to do the work that I do best,” said Cuomo. “While it’s very difficult to leave ABC News, a place filled with people I have loved working with for many years, I am excited about my future with CNN.”
Prior to joining CNN, Cuomo was co-anchor of the Emmy Award-winning ABC News newsmagazine 20/20 and chief law and justice correspondent for ABC News. In just the last year, he booked major interviews in the Madoff scandal, Rutgers student case, the John Edwards scandal, and with Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky’s victim No. 1. From September 2006 - December 2009, Cuomo was the news anchor for Good Morning America, and covered every major story at home and abroad during that time. Overseas, he was an embedded reporter in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Domestically, he distinguished himself covering the continuing problem of shootings like Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, and the Pennsylvania Amish school shootings; hurricanes Katrina and Rita; the Sago Mine collapse, and the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August 2007. Cuomo has been honored with numerous industry accolades for his investigative reporting including multiple Emmy nominations and awards, a Polk, a Peabody, two Edward R. Murrows, a Loeb and the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award.
Here's Jill Abramson's memo about the New York Times masthead restructuring, forwarded to us yesterday by a source:
I wanted to let you know quickly that we are through the process of offering voluntary buyouts and cutting staff. In the end, we had to layoff far fewer people than we anticipated, having achieved most of our savings through the voluntary process.
We will continue to reposition ourselves, to meet the challenges of remaking ourselves for the digital age. The changes underway are part of the journey that we’ve been on for years: integrating our print and digital operations, expanding our reporting, deepening our ways of telling stories, innovating in ways that make our journalism the literal envy of our profession and the joy of our readers.
This means that some colleagues are changing roles. Rick Berke will now focus on video as it becomes an even bigger part of our news report. Glenn Kramon will steer our technology coverage when it is at the heart of how the world turns. These are urgent assignments requiring leaders who know the full panoply of what the newsroom is capable of doing.
We will be naming a new culture editor in the next two weeks. Jason Stallman will be our new sports editor.
Our operational needs will continue to be handled by those on the masthead, which will now include some new names. Larry Ingrassia will be the assistant managing editor for new initiatives. In this role he will spearhead our many new ventures and revenue projects. There are several already in the works, including our expansion of international coverage.
Janet Elder will be assistant managing editor for newsroom administration. She will oversee newsroom resources, including managing our budget and dealing with compensation, staffing, career development and training.
Ian Fisher will be assistant managing editor for content operations. He will manage the deepening integration of our digital and print news reports, working closely with interactive news, engagement, mobile and technology.
In the coming days and weeks we will have time to pause and express our affection and boundless gratitude for our departing colleagues. Some of the longest-serving leaders in the newsroom are leaving, people who have given The Times so much of themselves and are responsible for so much of our excellence. Among them is John Geddes’ whose smarts, ability to seamlessly get us through all manner of crises from hurricanes to blackouts and of course his ability to make us laugh at ourselves will be sorely missed. Jon Landman is leaving too. He epitomizes the integrity and ingenuity of this place. Bill Schmidt, whose charm and grace symbolize the fundamental humanity of our newsroom, is planning to leave as well.
The very tread of Jim Roberts’ cowboy boots means: “We have this covered.” He will be moving on as will Joe Sexton, fresh off the glory of the Avalanche project
But just as these inspiring leaders stood on the shoulders of those who came before, we are shored up by the accomplishments of our departing colleagues and challenged to reach even higher. As we start a new chapter, we are more resolved in our purpose and more committed to our standards.
Let us settle into this new world order. Then fire away with questions and criticisms.
Thanks to all of you for your patience.
Some personnel news from NPR:
NPR News has hired longtime investigative reporter and editor Robert Little to lead its investigative team, beginning March 4th. As senior editor for investigations, Little will work with reporters, producers and editors to develop investigative stories, and will oversee NPR’s partnerships with other non-profit news organizations doing high-level investigative work.
"We have serious ambition for NPR’s investigative work and Bob brings a powerful set of skills to the task. He has deep investigative experience and an impressive track record on that front," said Margaret Low Smith, NPR Senior Vice President of News. "In addition, he has high level newsroom leadership know-how and broad domestic and international reporting experience.”
Little spent 15 years at The Baltimore Sun; since 2010, he's been the paper’s Investigative and Enterprise Editor. Under Little’s leadership, The Sun recently published a series of articles uncovering widespread flaws in Baltimore’s speed camera network, which has since been shut down.