It’s a bad time to work for CNN. Despite an announcement in June of this year by CNN CEO, Chris Licht, who told employees that there would not be any layoffs at the media giant, Licht announced at a Tuesday town hall with employees that layoffs could be occurring as soon as December – just in time for the holidays.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, Licht did not give specifics about the coming layoffs, saying only that teams that are not considered essential to CNN’s “core mission” will be cut. Licht also oversaw the embarrassing shutdown of CNN+ earlier this year, a month after it was launched. He also had his hand in the departures of long-time employees, Brian Stelter, John Harwood, and Jeffrey Toobin, as well as the demotion of Don Lemon to a morning show. Moves that have rightfully left the remaining employees on edge.
To soothe frazzled nerves, in June Licht told employees at a staff-wide event, “As it relates to CNN, there are no layoffs per see. A layoff is a downsizing, where you are given a target, and that is not happening at CNN,” but clearly that statement was either untrue or circumstances have changed.
Then, in October, Licht sent a sobering memo announcing that changes were coming and blamed the economy saying, “There is widespread concern over the global economic outlook, and we must factor that risk into our long-term planning. All this together will mean noticeable change to this organization. That, by definition, is unsettling. These changes will not be easy because they will affect people, budgets, and projects.”
According to Licht, there will not be any additional layoffs after those set for early December, at least at this time. During the Tuesday town hall, one CNN staffer said that during their 20 years with the company they had never seen morale lower than it currently is.
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While Licht was quick to blame the struggling economy for the layoffs, CNN has had a series of failures that really shoulder responsibility for the cuts. The network’s ratings are consistently falling across the board, and the much anticipated CNN+ streaming service was an epic failure and was canceled after less than a month in existence, but not before costing the company $100 million.