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Huge Shakeup At CNN: Jon Klein Out As President, HLN’s Ken Jautz In

It appears that the terrible ratings finally caught up with CNN honcho Jon Klein. Brian Stelter at the NY Times reports that the beleagured president of CNN is out of his current position, to be replaced by Ken Jautz, who is currently heading up HLN. CNN’s Worldwide Chief sent a memo to CNN’s staff this morning indicating that Klein was leaving with “our respect and friendship” without specifying the reason why he was out, though certainly CNN’s declining ratings were at issue.
The story first broke on FTVlive.com, then news quickly filtered through the usual outlets.

Klein took over as president of CNN six years ago, a period that coincided with a steady and significant decline in ratings at the cable news network. In March of this year, this reporter suggested that CNN’s ratings tailspin made Klein vulnerable, though at the time, Walton voiced his support.

Walton’s memo to the CNN staff reads below:

To: CNN Staff

From: Jim Walton

=======================================================

I have some news to share with you about our executive leadership and
how our programming teams are going to work together to ensure we’re
prominently featuring CNN’s quality journalism across our multiple
platforms. Two accomplished CNN executives whom most of you know and
have worked with are stepping up to new roles, effective immediately.
A third senior leader will be brought on in the role of managing
editor to help leverage our newsgathering resources across multiple
platforms in a more collaborative way.

Ken Jautz is moving from HLN to CNN/U.S. to run the network as its
executive vice president. Ken is a rarity-a working journalist who is
an even better news executive. The reinvention of HLN is the latest
in a string of successes he has led at CNN. Ken has launched, made
profitable and turned around businesses for our news organization,
Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner literally around the world. To
his new assignment he brings deep experience as a reporter, both
overseas and in the US; a CNN-wide perspective; and relationships from
multiple positions within Turner. Most importantly, he has a
demonstrated ability to collaborate and lead strong teams, and a
track-record of programming successes.

Scot Safon assumes the executive vice president role at HLN and will
run the network. Scot and HLN are in my view an inspired combination.
He is an innovator; HLN is an ideal news and information laboratory.
He is an expert in audience targeting and development; HLN’s audience
is young, engaged and growing. And he is a charismatic leader who is
passionate about journalism, storytelling and our brand. As Chief
Marketing Officer of CNN Worldwide, Scot has led a dynamic team that
has done award-winning marketing, advertising and promotion for CNN,
HLN, CNN International and CNN.com.

Additionally, to put our multi-platform advantages more fully to work,
we will be naming an executive vice president and managing editor of
CNN Worldwide to lead collaboration across all platforms and elevate
CNN’s unique journalism and analysis. A managing editor, with full
access to our journalism resources and my mandate to shape and connect
our newsgathering across networks, shows, and websites, is a new role
for the organization. Ultimately, the goal is that the kind of
front-page reporting and analysis that captures a news event,
translates its meaning and shapes the dialogue about the story will
continue to emerge in even more prominent and more accessible ways to
CNN’s audiences. The search for this person is currently underway.

Our colleague Jon Klein is leaving CNN. Jon’s six years as head of
CNN/U.S. are reflected in the quality of our coverage of signal news
events during his tenure: the tsunami in South Asia, Hurricane
Katrina, the 2008 election cycle and the Haiti earthquake, as well as
shows like Anderson Cooper 360, The Situation Room and Fareed Zakaria
GPS, all of which bear his imprint. Jon has made important
contributions to the CNN story, and he leaves with our respect and
friendship, and with my sincere thanks.

We are going into a busy fall and winter with November elections and
two new prime time shows on CNN. Ken, Scot and the new managing
editor will impact these and all of the other events ahead, as will
you. My expectation is that our leaders and our new operating
discipline will put CNN’s advantages to work where they matter most:
for our audience. Our coverage will be relevant and resonant; will
have meaning for millions of people around the world; and it will
reflect the qualities that CNN is rightfully famous for: commitment to
truth, respect for facts, service to no political agenda and passion for
journalism and analysis done right and well.

f

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