CNN axes prominent talent as network cuts hundreds of jobs

files.  (Getty Images)

files. (Getty Images)

CNN chief Chris Licht executed massive layoffs at the network on Thursday and announced that he was ending live programming on sister network HLN.

Licht gave pink slips to a number of notable correspondents and production staff, including editor-at-large Chris Cillizza.

In a memo shared with the employees, Licht said: “The changes we are making today are necessary and will make us stronger and better positioned to place big batches going forward without fear of failure.”

However, the move was criticized by many on social media as uncertainty and layoffs impact journalists’ livelihoods and mental health.

CNN also fired Alison Kosik, Alexandra Field, and Martin Savidge. Mary Anne Fox, the VP of northeast news, was also laid off.

The layoffs were expected to impact hundreds of employees but a CNN spokesperson refused to mention how many were let go.

Licht announced that he was also ending all live programming on HLN. This means that all HLN hosts will lose their jobs.

Licht said HLN will instead simulcast “CNN This Morning” and its crime programming will move under the purview of Kathleen Finch, a programming executive at the Warner Bros.

“I want to take a moment to thank Robin Meade — she is not only an exceptionally popular anchor, but also one of the longest-running morning hosts in history,” Licht wrote in his memo. “I know the HLN audience will miss her and the other HLN talents.”

Other changes at the network included CNN International “reorganizing some of its teams and bureaus”.

Licht said, effective immediately, CNN International’s 5pm ET show “will be replaced by a simulcast of CNN US for that half hour”.

Some of the changes at the network, after Licht took over as the head of CNN, have already been implemented in the last few months, CNN Business reported on Thursday.

In his latest memo to the employees, Licht wrote: “Our goal throughout the strategic review process has been to better align our people, processes and resources with our future priorities, strengthen our ability to deliver on CNN’s core journalistic mission and enable us to innovate in the years ahead.”

He added: “At the highest level, the goal is to direct our resources to best serve and grow audiences for our core news programming and products. To achieve these goals, we will be reducing open job positions, reimagining our workflows and aligning our staffing, investing and focusing around three key strategic priorities: programming, news gathering and digital.”

Meanwhile, Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at NYU and a keen media observer, told the Guardian last week that “Chris Licht believes that CNN devoted too much time to Trump coverage and politics, and in looking for short-term ratings CNN became over-dependent, like a sugar-high, on Trump, politics generally and punditry. A lot of people would agree with that.