Online Division Hit Hard As CNN Confirms Layoffs

ATLANTA — The much-rumored and highly-anticipated layoffs at CNN were unveiled Wednesday and no department felt the brunt of the dreaded pink slips more than CNN Interactive.

CNN Interactive will lose one-third of its employees in the Atlanta-based media giant’s sweeping layoffs. Other cuts will come from CNN programming and other sectors of the company.

In addition to the job cuts, CNN Interactive president Scott Woefel announced his resignation. Edna Johnson, spokesperson for CNN Interactive, confirmed Woefel’s resignation.

The job cuts are in response to CNN’s desire to combine its various news units into a single cohesive entity, according to a statement released by CNN officials. The layoffs will reach throughout CNN’s worldwide operations of 4,350 workers, 2,800 of whom are based in Atlanta. At press time, it is not known how many employees will be cut from any of CNN’s operations around the globe.

The streamlining will include bringing together all CNN’s news-gathering units – television, radio and Internet sectors – into one cohesive unit. In the past, employees have been “assigned” to separate operations.

CNN Newsgathering President Eason Jordan sent a memo to all employees detailing the massive restructuring plan. In the memo, Jordan said:

“I am an outspoken advocate of revolutionary change within CNN and am the architect of many of the initiatives we are implementing across the News Group, especially in Newsgathering.This process initially will be painful for us because approximately 400 of our colleagues, our friends, will be leaving CNN due to these changes.Those whose jobs are being eliminated will be told by their managers the week of Jan. 22.”

Those given pink slips on Jan. 22 will remain employed until Jan. 26. All employees that are laid off will receive 9 weeks of pay and might qualify for as much as an additional 4 weeks of salary, depending on length of service.

A “Newsgathering super desk” will be created in Atlanta, where CNN is based. This desk will share information in an effort to expedite the time it takes to gather the news and get it to the various news platforms. There will also be an Atlanta-based investigative unit that will uncover breaking news.

Other announcements include the expansion of CNN’s in-house wire service will begin writing and posting stories directly for CNN’s Web operations, as well as utilizing compact, high-tech newsgathering equipment, including DV cameras and laptops for field reporters, in an effort to quicken the turn-around time at the scene of coverage.

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