Politico’s Dylan Byers is reporting that the recent round of layoffs and buyouts at CNN has resulted in low morale and high anxiety at the network’s Washington bureau, with one employee likening it to the turmoil in the Washington Redskins locker room.
“Morale at the CNN Washington Bureau is about as strong as it is inside the Redskins’ locker room — and the management is just as bad,” another CNN staffer told Byers.
According to Byers, there is a lot of tension in the office as longtime employees have either been fired or accepted buyouts, while a handful have been promoted and given raises, demoralizing the remaining staff.
“Many employees who are left are terrified of being let go,” the staffer said. “The management in the bureau is forcing most remaining producers to sign contracts, because they are worried even more people are going to leave the company, and the bureau can’t run with fewer people than are staffed now. So as a huge group has been let go, [others] are getting promotions and huge raises, which has made the last month horrible between the haves and have nots.”
The layoffs at CNN, which were targeted at 300 total with 50 from the Washington bureau, are part of a company-wide retrenchment called Turner 2020, which is aimed at realigning the company’s various properties and focusing on those that generate the most profit for its parent company, Time Warner.
Even though some staffers praise CNN president Jeff Zucker’s efforts to streamline the network—which they admit had become overpopulated and lethargic—they were equally concerned that the executives working under Zucker lacked the management skills necessary to guide the staff through the transition.
While the layoffs and buyouts may lead to a streamlined CNN, it is unlikely to resolve the network’s biggest problem—bad programming and lousy ratings—which Zucker has failed to fix.