CNN Has Landed on Its CEO

Former 'New York Times' CEO Mark Thompson will join network in October
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2023 8:10 AM CDT
CNN Has Landed on Its CEO
The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on Feb. 2, 2022.   (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)

CNN has landed on its turnaround solution: Mark Thompson has been selected as the new CEO of the network, which he'll officially join on Oct. 9. It's a position he held from 2012 to 2020 at the New York Times, having made major strides in building its robust online subscription business and rolling out podcasts under his purview. Prior to that he held the top slot at the BBC. Context:

  • The Wall Street Journal sees Thompson's selection as "a striking contrast" to the previous pick, TV producer Chris Licht. Licht had no experience helming a major news operation and exited in June roughly a year into his tenure, with the network's ratings well behind those of Fox News and MSNBC.

  • CNN's own report on the hire notes it comes at "one of the most pivotal times in [the company's] 43-year history." It outlines the biggest threats it is facing, chief among them the "rapid contraction of traditional linear television, where it generates the bulk of its revenue." It flags Thompson's experience at the Times, which was seeing a comparable erosion of its print business and turned into a "digital powerhouse" under his leadership.
  • The Times revisits that turnaround, noting that when Thompson assumed the CEO role the paper's subscriber-only paywall "was still in its infancy." Thompson later spoke of internal "skepticism" that it could seriously ramp up its digital subscribers. Said Thompson, "We weren't doing it smart enough. And we weren't using data properly." The paper now has 9 million digital-only subscribers.
  • The official line from CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery: "There isn't a more experienced, respected or capable executive in the news business today than Mark, and we are thrilled to have him join our team and lead CNN Worldwide into the future."
  • The official line from Thompson: "I couldn't be more excited about the chance to join CNN after years of watching it and competing against it with a mixture of admiration and envy. The world needs accurate trustworthy news now more than ever and we've never had more ways of meeting that need at home and abroad. Where others see disruption, I see opportunity. I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with my new colleagues to build a successful future for CNN."
(More CNN stories.)

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