Archive for the CNN Category

Voting Issue…

Posted in CNN on October 16, 2014 by icn2

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This picture was posted this morning by a CNN staffer on Twitter. Predictably, though maybe not for the people involved in this picture, the reaction was pretty vocal. So let’s have a vote…

Update: That tweet, and all the replies to that tweet, have been deleted. Gee, I wonder why…

Update 2: Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell picks up on this

Mediaite has learned from a source that Griffin took the picture, but then CNN brass immediately asked him to delete it.

That’s “immediately” as in within an hour or so…and not before New Day anchor Chris Cuomo RT’d it…

Spot The Anonymouse: The Sequel…

Posted in CNN on October 9, 2014 by icn2

Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes about the latest leak to allegedly come out of NBC News…

The big two questions are: Would this have worked if NBC News President Deborah Turness could have pulled it off? And why/how do these kind of leaks continue to occur under Ms. Turness?

At least one of these questions is the wrong one to be asking. But I’ll circle back to that in a moment…

Then there’s the disturbing (to NBC brass) pattern of leaks during the Turness tenure. David Gregory’s exit was a clinic on how not to handle something in the media business (or any business for that matter). Note: Gregory had been with the network for two decades, handling anchoring/hosting roles from morning show to evening newscast. A few months before firing him, someone in a high place at NBC willfully leaked that a “psychological consultant” was hired to interview Gregory’s friends and family (which didn’t make him look bad or anything). And before NBC could announce his actual termination in August, again the network is caught flat-footed when the press breaks the not-so-surprising news first.

So who’s talking and why? Today, the New York Post features a blaring headline: Are Deborah Turness’ days at NBC News numbered? Three big reasons why the question is being asked:

I’m not going to argue that there haven’t been some damaging leaks to come out of NBC and I’m especially not going to argue that NBC’s handling of the Gregory termination was not a Charlie Foxtrot.

But damaging leaks sprung up all over NBC during the Ann Curry fiasco, another personel change that NBC botched badly, but I don’t recall Concha calling Steve Capus’ tenure “tumultuous”.

More to the point, this last leak can’t be laid at NBC’s doorstep. It came from elsewhere. So NBC News didn’t shoot itself in the foot by leaking the Stewart story just weeks after Todd took over MTP. NBC was shot at by someone from outside the network.

The evidence for an outside shot fired at 30 Rock was right there for all to see, if you knew what to look for.

Exhibit A: The author of the story was Gabriel Sherman.

Exhibit B: What major story did Sherman just write about just a few days earlier? CNN and Jeff Zucker.

Timing is everything. In this case two stories on Zucker back to back, stories that were done with Zucker’s co-operation, followed immediately by a story on Meet The Press, occurred too closely together to be dismissed as a mere coincidence. It’s a mistake that even seasoned media writers sometimes make thinking they’ve covered their tracks without realizing that some of us are on the lookout for red flags like that.

Jeff Zucker is plugged in. He knows everyone in the biz, associations built up over decades rising up NBC’s corporate ranks. Agents talk…they talk a lot more than the outsiders looking in on this industry realize.

The biggest secret about the news business is how much of it has never been publicly disclosed. The amount of history that’s been publicly disseminated by media writers is eclipsed by the amount of history that they know but have never revealed for one reason or another.

The leaker of the Stewart story definitely has ties to NBC. He just doesn’t work there any more.

The question Concha should be asking is why Jeff Zucker decided to leak the Stewart story to Sherman. What was his motivation? What does he gain?

More on CNN…

Posted in CNN on October 7, 2014 by icn2

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman pens a follow up piece on this CNN story from a couple of days ago. It’s supposed to be about the cuts that are coming but the parts that got my attention where apparent leftovers from his Sunday story which got cut out…

But the cuts are also a reminder that Zucker doesn’t have the free reign he enjoyed as CEO of NBC Universal. CNN, after all, is only a division of Turner Broadcasting, which in turn is a division of Time Warner. For a man who used to be the boss, having to answer to a boss has been disorienting. Last year, for instance, Zucker wanted to bring on Bewkes’s communications chief, Gary Ginsberg, as a deputy, but then-Turner CEO Phil Kent resisted the idea. This winter, Turner president David Levy forced out longtime CNN advertising executive Greg D’Alba against Zucker’s wishes. Levy called Zucker only after he had told D’Alba of the decision, which angered Zucker.

These tensions with Turner executives have led to speculation that Zucker could be a rival with Levy for the Turner CEO job. When I asked Zucker about it, he flatly dismissed the notion. “Everybody can’t accept that I just want to run CNN,” he said. “I don’t know how to disprove it to people. Really, I’m doing exactly the job I want to do. I’ve done that other job. This is more fun. And incredibly challenging.”

CNN Workforce Cuts…

Posted in CNN on October 6, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens reports that CNN will be forced to cut its workforce as part of the Turner 2020 initiative…

As part of Turner 2020, the cost-cutting and reorganization plan announced earlier this year, the parent company of CNN, HLN, TBS and others, just announced it plans to cut 1,475 jobs.

The cuts, first announced in August, will come from across the company’s networks and corporate functions and will include layoffs, buyouts and unfilled positions. Turner says it will also add 150 new jobs.

“Employees whose positions are directly impacted will be advised over the next two weeks and will be offered severance pay for transition,” CEO John Martin writes in a note to staff.

Inside Jeff Zucker…

Posted in CNN on October 5, 2014 by icn2

In a must read, New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman turns his keyboard to CNN in general and Jeff Zucker in particular. Typical of Sherman articles of this nature, it’s chock full of kibitz worthy nuggets like this…

The strategy was most vividly on display during CNN’s breathless—and seemingly endless—coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, lowlighted by anchor Don Lemon speculating on camera that the missing plane might have flown into a black hole. (Zucker was frustrated by the gaffe: “Don, don’t be an idiot.”)

And this…

According to CNN sources, Tapper vented to colleagues about having to cover the George Zimmerman trial so extensively, and Cooper protested the MH370 marathon. As for the entertainment programming, a veteran producer told me that it was “akin to McDonald’s taking reservations for dinner.”

And this…

Maybe Jeff Zucker’s career is an object lesson in the dangers of peaking too early. Or the hubris of leaving a winning team. Or maybe it just goes to show that it’s hard to capture lightning in a bottle once—let alone twice—in television. Nevertheless, he is dogged by the question of whether he can achieve something like his early success again. “Is Jeff a one-hit wonder?” a former NBC executive asked. “It’s the ­sophomore-album problem.”

And this…

One evening in August, I meet Zucker downtown at Babbo. “I don’t really go south of 42nd Street without a visa,” he tells me. Over dinner, I ask him about the narrative that persists in some corners of the industry that he’s failed upward. “The one thing we could not get fixed was NBC prime time. Fact. You want me to go scream it on the street?” he says with a flash of exasperation. “We had six consecutive years of best-ever performance in the cable division. NBC Sports? We’re the ones who went and bought Sunday Night Football. Universal Pictures? We’re the ones who bought Illumination Studios”—creator of the Despicable Me franchise—“and Harry Potter. I’m not trying to take credit for these things. But if things happen on your watch, both bad and good, you have to judge it collectively.”

And this…

But over the next few months, Zucker’s enemies in Hollywood mobilized. Kent and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes received calls from power brokers like Ari Emanuel and Rick Rosen, Conan O’Brien’s agent at William Morris Endeavor, imploring them not to hire Zucker. “He’s a political animal. You’re going to destroy the organization,” Kent was told. Bewkes heard talk that the ambitious Zucker would go after Kent’s job.

The anti-Zucker campaign spooked Kent. “I was concerned at the volume of calls I was getting lobbying against Jeff,” he told me. “I was also well aware of everyone’s agenda.” According to sources familiar with the search, Kent began considering other candidates, including former ESPN executive Mark Shapiro and then–NBC News president Steve Capus. Zucker’s allies fought back. Ron Meyer, Universal Studios’ then-president, and Steve Lafferty, head of CAA’s TV department, called Kent and made Zucker’s case. In November, Kent finally offered Zucker the job. “I’m sorry it took so long,” he said.

Jeff Zucker: Micromanager?

Posted in CNN on October 4, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Emily Steel <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/business/media/at-crossroads-cnn-seeks-to-reassert-itself.html?_r=1 grumblings over Jeff Zucker’s management style…

One change that Mr. Zucker has made is emphasizing breaking news, focusing coverage on just two or three major stories throughout a given day, rather than delivering an all-encompassing, scattershot report of the headlines as was common in the past. The rationale is that viewers are likely to catch other news on the web or on social media. Mr. Zucker leads daily news meetings, unlike past CNN chiefs who delegated the responsibility. Employees called Mr. Zucker a micromanager and said that he sent missives from his BlackBerry at all hours about everything, be it the length of story segments or the graphics that appear on screen.

I don’t have a problem with this. Remember, Zucker was hired as a turnaround President. People who are given those kinds of charters, and know it, are going to get their fingers in the machinery. It should be a given.

CNN’s (Un)Scripting…

Posted in CNN on October 3, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Alex Weprin writes about CNN’s unscripted programming…

With the threat of layoffs from the “Turner 2020” plan hanging over all of Turner Broadcasting, those original programs seem assured to be spared from cuts. If anything, Turner 2020 will amplify CNN’s original programming plans.

But that only intensifies the pressure.

CNN has blocked out 9 p.m. on its schedule for original series, though so far it it does not have nearly enough programs to fill up that schedule. With the new shows launching this fall, and the slate for 2015 just about to take shape, that will soon change.

“I don’t think we have launched three at one time before,” Amy Entelis, CNN’s senior V.P. of talent and content development told Capital, referring to a new season of “Parts Unknown,” and the launches of new shows featuring Lisa Ling and Mike Rowe. “This is sort of a big season for us right now, the most new content that we have put out there since we started this strategy.”

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