CNN Throwing it Against the Wall and See if it Sticks Strategy


It appears that Jeff Zucker's new strategy at CNN is just take a show idea and throw it against the wall and see it it sticks.

Last week, CNN unveiled a new show called '(Get to) The Point'...the show never did get to the point and was cancelled 4 days later.

The Washington Post writes that Zucker, 48, has come into his new job like a man rummaging through the contents of a cluttered attic. He has hired, fired and reshuffled anchors and hosts (out: Soledad O’Brien,Ali Velshi), added new producers and pared CNN’s long list of talking heads (out: Mary Matalin, James Carville, Roland Martin, Bill Bennett). He has whipped a sports show onto the weekend schedule and added a newsy weekday afternoon program, hosted by ABC News defector Jake Tapper.

Coming soon: a food-and-travel program with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain on Sundays and a new morning program for weekdays. The latter will be co-anchored by another big-ticket hire from ABC, Chris Cuomo, and rising star Kate Bolduan (CNN evening host Erin Burnett declined the reassignment to mornings). The early hours are Zucker’s wheelhouse — he made his name as executive producer of NBC’s “Today” show in the 1990s — so his morning makeover will be a closely watched test of CNN’s direction.

These moves haven’t done much yet to goose the network’s woebegone ratings. They have, however, simultaneously invigorated and terrified its employees. Many of them have been used to doing things “the CNN way” — that is, thoughtfully, deliberately . . . and in a manner very likely to drive viewers to Bravo or TLC.

“He’s transformed the energy,” says one of CNN’s Washington journalists, among several who asked not to be named so as not to preempt the new boss. “Zucker,” he adds, “wasn’t brought in to tinker. He was brought in to blow up the place.”

The question pinging through the hallways in CNN’s news offices in New York, Washington and Atlanta is whether Zucker — whose last network gig was a calamity — can really fix the network’s problems.

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