Accuracy in Media

After a three-year analysis of the company’s work processes CNN began to issue layoff notices yesterday to staffers in Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Miami. The network is eliminating about 50 positions, from photographers to news editors to those employed at the CNN Library in New York, which is closing and being consolidated with one in Atlanta.

CNN Senior VP Jack Womack issued the following note to the staff:

From: Womack, Jack
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 3:59 PM
To: *CNN ALL Cities ImageSound (TBS); *CNN ALL Cities Tech Ops

For the past three years, we have been analyzing our work process across Image + Sound, both in the field and in our editing and production areas.

Our goal has been to make sure we have the right resources in the right places to meet the demands of all of our programs. Technology investments in our newsrooms now allow more desk-top editing and publishing for broadcast and online. This evolution allows more people in more places to edit and publish than ever before. As a result of these technology and workflow changes, CNN is reducing the number of media editors in our work force in Atlanta. CNN Image + Sound will continue with high end craft editing that has positive impact on our networks and platforms.

We also spent a great deal of time analyzing how we utilize and deploy photojournalists across all of our locations in the U.S. We looked at the evolution of daytime and evening line-ups. We analyzed how stories are assigned and more importantly the ratio of stories assigned that actually make it on to our networks or platforms. We know that we have to sharpen our focus on stories assigned to ensure that this great work gets on air. We looked at production demands, down time, and international deployments. We looked at the impact of user-generated content and social media, CNN iReporters and of course our affiliate contributions in breaking news. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.

We cannot begin to thank these individuals enough for their service to CNN. They leave with our respect and our sincere best wishes.

Now that we have completed this three-year review, we believe that we have the right resources in the right places and the proper staffing at Image + Sound, and that the unit is well-positioned to have an even more positive impact on our networks and platforms.


As the memo stated, advances in technology led to the layoffs, with CNN taking greater advantage of desktop publishing to produce material. Of particular note is the great improvement in small, handheld cameras, including smartphones and flip cams that can now produce broadcast quality video, including in high definition. That, combined with the widespread use of iReporters, the explosive growth of social media sites, and YouTube in particular have reduced the need for CNN to keep as many photojournalists on staff.

Other networks will likely follow CNN’s moves as they continue to search for ways to increase productivity and profits in a very competitive landscape.

(h/t TV Newswer)

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