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CNN appoints Thompson CEO and chairman

August 31, 2023

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

The following excerpt was sent out from CNN:

Mark Thompson (Photo: Getty Images)

Mark Thompson, the former chief executive of The New York Times and director-general of the BBC, will be the next leader of CNN, the network announced Wednesday, taking the reins of the renowned global news organization at one of the most pivotal times in its 43-year history.

“There isn’t a more experienced, respected or capable executive in the news business today than Mark, and we are thrilled to have him join our team and lead CNN Worldwide into the future,” David Zaslav, the chief executive of CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.

Thompson, who will officially start on October 9 as chief executive and chairman, and act as the network’s editor-in-chief, said in a statement that he “couldn’t be more excited about the chance to join CNN after years of watching it and competing against it with a mixture of admiration and envy.”

“The world needs accurate trustworthy news now more than ever and we’ve never had more ways of meeting that need at home and abroad,” Thompson said. “Where others see disruption, I see opportunity. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with my new colleagues to build a successful future for CNN.”

The appointment of Thompson, a seasoned media executive who is widely credited with rescuing The Times during a turbulent period in the newspaper’s history, comes at a momentous time for CNN, with the network facing a slew of significant challenges. How those challenges are addressed will define the future of the news network.

Thompson acknowledged a state of “peak disruption” in the media industry, writing Wednesday in his first memo to CNN staffers, “We face pressure from every direction – structural, political, cultural, you name it. … There’s no magic wand that I or anyone else can wield to make this disruption go away. But what I can say is that where others see threat, I see opportunity – especially given CNN’s great brand and the strength of its journalism.”

To compound the challenges, Thompson will be met with the tough task of leading a 4,000-employee strong global news company that has suffered several seismic blows in the last 20 months. During that trying period, its longtime chief executive Jeff Zucker was unexpectedly ousted; the streaming service CNN+ was abruptly shuttered; star anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon were fired; several programming shakeups were implemented, including the relaunching of its flagship morning program and prime time lineup; and mass layoffs took place.

While it was widely believed by CNN staffers that the four-member team would be in place through the 2024 election, providing the network stability as it traversed a difficult news terrain, recent reports that Warner Bros. Discovery was searching for a singular leader ruptured that notion. Some staffers feared it was too soon for another executive shakeup, but many expressed excitement at the possibility Thompson would be selected for the assignment.

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