CNN is planning to lay off at least 100 employees, with the possibility of more cuts, as it restructures to address declining cable news ratings and makes another push into the digital space. This move is part of a broader strategy to adapt to the changing media landscape and strengthen the network’s position in both traditional and digital media markets, a report said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CNN Chief Executive Mark Thompson sent a memo to staff on Wednesday detailing his plan to reduce the company’s workforce significantly. The reductions will primarily occur through merging the television newsgathering and digital-news divisions. Thompson acknowledged that transitioning from traditional TV will involve challenges and could be painful for the organization.

“We recognize its potentially enormous impact on the individuals affected,” Thompson wrote to his 4,000 employees worldwide. He declined to provide the Journal with further details about his shift to digital but said the move would “be significantly built out of” In addition to a streamlined focus on traditional news topics, Thompson wrote that a separate division would expand CNN’s “lifestyle journalism,” an admission that political news coverage will not save the network from its ratings free fall. TV news “can no longer define us,” he added, writing that the network is “nowhere near ready for the future.”

Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of CNN, is also planning to implement a small number of layoffs in the upcoming weeks, according to sources cited by the outlet. This move is part of a broader challenge faced by mainstream media companies as they adapt to the evolving landscape of media consumption, characterized by widespread cord-cutting, a decline in paid subscribers, and the need to reduce the substantial salaries of high-profile on-air talent potentially.

In May, CNN reported its lowest viewership numbers in decades, indicating a significant decline in audience engagement. During the week of May 13th to 19th, the network averaged only 83,000 viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic during the prime time hours of 8 to 11 p.m., marking its lowest level in over 30 years. Overall, CNN’s viewership across all demographics was substantially lower than its competitors, with the network attracting 494,000 viewers compared to Fox’s 2 million and MSNBC’s 1.1 million.

Thompson, at the time, attributed the sagging ratings to the network’s transition from traditional news coverage to a greater emphasis on pop culture topics, suggesting a strategic pivot that has yet to yield positive results in viewership. “We don’t believe news is just politics. Business and tech are news. Climate and weather are news. Health, wellness, and living longer are news. So expect to see us build new branded verticals in all these areas on TV, on our apps, and across our other platforms,” he said.

One of the initial major strategies proposed by Mark Thompson involved significant reductions in the salaries of CNN’s highest-paid talent. Currently, top earners at CNN include Anderson Cooper, who earns $20 million, Wolf Blitzer at $15 million, Jake Tapper at $8.5 million, and Chris Wallace at $8 million. Additionally, lower-tier anchors like John Berman, Kate Bolduan, and Sara Sidner have annual salaries ranging from $1 million to $2 million. However, any changes to these salary structures will need to wait until at least 2025 or 2026, when their existing contracts are up for renegotiation.

CNN seems to be struggling with its own decisions and direction. Thompson made the move to cancel the show “King Charles” hosted by former NBA star and outspoken critic of Trump, Charles Barkley, after it failed to meet expectations. Adding to the controversy, Barkley reportedly criticized the network as a “s***show” during his recruitment phase. Moreover, CNN’s decision to host town halls with Donald Trump also led to internal dissatisfaction, with some reporters and media personalities voicing concerns that these events were giving a platform to alleged misinformation.

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