CNN Politics eliminates more than a dozen positions

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Peter Sterne

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More than a dozen employees in CNN's Digital Politics division learned this week that their positions will be eliminated at the end of the month, Capital has learned.

The employees were told that they would have to re-apply to new positions with new job descriptions, a source told Capital. Time Warner's careers site currently lists 15 positions related to CNN's digital politics division, and a CNN spokesman said it will add two more later this week. The spokesman also said that the number of new positions added will be greater than the number of positions eliminated.

The restructuring, which affects employees working for CNN's digital politics team in D.C., is a consequence of the network's plan to build a new digital politics product.

In May, CNN hired Ed O'Keefe as vice-president of CNNMoney and Politics. O'Keefe, a veteran network executive, had been editor-in-chief of NowThis News, which spealized in producing short, mobile-friendly videos about news topics. Last week, the network added Rachel Smolkin, formerly managing editor of POLITICO, as executive editor of politics for CNN Digital. (Both POLITICO and Capital New York are owned by Robert Allbritton.)

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O'Keefe, who has said that he plans to double the size of the digital politics staff, told Capital that he wants to shift the site's focus to video and mobile content.

"We are creating a political product that doesn't exist, adding resources, and focusing on critical areas of traffic and revenue growth: mobile, social and video," he said.

Currently, CNN's politics website is organized around its text-heavy blog Political Ticker—a reverse-chronological series of newspaper article-style posts about political events written by CNN's digital politics reporters. The new vision for the digital politics emphasizes social and mobile-optimized video content, which means the old reporting-centric positions are being replaced by more social-centric ones.

A recent job listing describes the duties of an "Editor, Digital Politics, CNN," as: "conceptualize, write, and edit content focused on a user-driven strategy that understands the nuances of packaging content for the web, mobile web, social (primarily Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and leading social messaging apps), and apps."

Back in May, CNN laid off a number of employees across the company as it integrated its TV and digital units. Around 50 employees were affected in that round of restructuring.