The ax at CNN began to fall today and will continue tomorrow, when Time Warner execs will meet with Wall Street analysts and investors to make a case for the company’s growth prospects. All told, there will be about 300 layoffs — including 130 voluntary buyouts — equal to about 8% of the news channel’s workforce. “The changes this week are difficult yet necessary,” CNN says. “Out of respect for our colleagues directly impacted, we won’t be commenting on specific people or programs.”
But word has it that most of the Los Angeles entertainment operation and the remaining skeletal New York-based staff for Christiane Amanpour’s London-based show were hit, and that HLN cancelled Jane Velez-Mitchell’s show. Also departing is VP and Northeast Bureau Chief Darius Walker, one of CNN’s highest-ranking black execs. Last week, the National Association of Black Journalists told the network that it was concerned about the lack of diversity in the top jobs — just after former field producer Stanley Wilson, a longtime employee let go in January, filed a $5M wrongful-termination and discrimination lawsuit.
The news division already was braced for the cuts: Turner Broadcasting CEO John Martin alerted his company on October 6 that they’d face 1,475 losses “at all levels from across the company’s news, entertainment, kids, young adult and sports networks and businesses, as well as corporate functions, in 18 Turner locations around the world.” CNN has been struggling to reinvigorate itself ratings-wise.