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CNN Jim Walton’s Holiday Memo

Who knew? CNN President Jim Walton is not high on the Kardashians. In a holiday memo sent out this morning, he writes about the year that transpired with high hopes for the one ahead.

He boasted: “I think I’ll remember 2011 as the year that CNN’s international reporting reasserted its dominance on the media landscape.  Through an extraordinary news cycle, we told global stories of natural disaster, political upheaval, war and human failing with breadth, authority and timeliness.  We worked together and across our platforms.  Our journalism set us apart.  Our work made a difference to millions who count on us.”

He reflected: “Those are some of the ways I’ll remember this year.  Here’s one more: I marked my 30th anniversary as part of CNN, doing work I love in a place unlike any other.”

He expressed gratitude: “We asked a lot of you this year and I am grateful to each of you for working so hard and delivering in so many ways. Thank you.”

See the full internal memo…
December 22, 2011

To:          CNN Staff
From:     Jim Walton
=======================================================

Get ready.  Any minute now, columnists and pundits will decide what 2011 was the year of.  As in, The Year of Regime Change or The Year of the Arab Spring.  The Year of Occupations seems like a possibility.  Maybe The Year of The Royal Wedding.  I will not be surprised to hear someone proclaim this The Year of Tebow.  I hope not to learn that it was The Year of Kardashian.

I wouldn’t want the job of choosing just one event to represent the past twelve months—not in a world as complex, diverse, challenged and changing as ours.  Besides, I think most people mark time with milestones closer to home: The year we got the dog.  The year we drove to the Grand Canyon.  The year (or years) the Christmas tree fell over. Many of mine connect to CNN.  I remember and celebrate the stories, the launches and the honors for the achievements they are, especially for the work that I know went into them and the people who made them happen.

I think I’ll remember 2011 as the year that CNN’s international reporting reasserted its dominance on the media landscape.  Through an extraordinary news cycle, we told global stories of natural disaster, political upheaval, war and human failing with breadth, authority and timeliness.  We worked together and across our platforms.  Our journalism set us apart.  Our work made a difference to millions who count on us.

It was the year that the CNN/U.S. prime time schedule regained its footing and became the only news network to post growth in prime -  with a significant increase of 30%; that our signature In America franchise distinguished itself and our brand with thoughtful, provocative new chapters; that CNN’s Freedom Project shone light in the dark corners of slavery and human trafficking; and that CNN Heroes reminded us that service, selflessness and humility are quietly and profoundly at work all around us.

I’ll look back on 2011 as a great year for CNN.com, highlighted by the acquisition of Zite and content enhancements that brought interesting new characters and voices to the site.  It was a runway year for our colleagues covering the U.S. Presidential race.  As the only cable news network whose reporting doesn’t take sides, our election coverage is poised for leadership and respect as political journalism without agenda.  And it was a year of high-fives for our technology colleagues and becoming the first to simulcast our domestic networks on the Web.

No doubt about it: 2011 was The Year of the Trial at HLN and In Session, with their wall-to-wall coverage of courtroom drama and the record-setting ratings it delivered.  HLN also provided powerful and moving reporting on the struggles of military families and on communities across America recovering and rebuilding in the wake of disaster.

I’m  pleased  that this was our eighth consecutive year of profit growth, and more so since that period covers the worst recession in 80 years.  It’s been a true team effort to grow our business in this economy, and it would not have happened without creativity, commitment and, sometimes, sacrifice.  We didn’t do it on our own; Turner Broadcasting and our sister networks and businesses are unfailing in their support of and pride in CNN.

This was the year that many of us took on new assignments.  We welcomed colleagues whose energy and ideas are the future of CNN, and we said goodbye to some on whose shoulders we stand.  We are who, what and where we are because Burt Reinhardt, Jon Petrovich, Nick Charles and Stan Case were here.

Those are some of the ways I’ll remember this year.  Here’s one more: I marked my 30th anniversary as part of CNN, doing work I love in a place unlike any other.  My wish for each of you is a run as enjoyable as mine has been and continues to be.  And I hope that when you look back on 2011, it’s with pride, satisfaction and good memories of this Year of CNN.

We asked a lot of you this year and I am grateful to each of you for working so hard and delivering in so many ways. Thank you.

Jim

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