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Turner Offers Buyouts to Hundreds of Employees; Will Also Seek ‘Additional Reductions in Staffing’

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Breaking: CNN and HLN are beginning a process of offering buyouts to hundreds of employees today. The Turner networks are among those feeling the effects of plan laid out by Turner CEO John Martin in a memo to all employees last week. More specifics came from CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker who told told employees last Tuesday they would hear from their managers about cutbacks. This morning, a note from Turner’s Chief Human Resources Officer arrived. The note, obtained by TVNewser explains that even after buyouts “Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.”

To support the company’s stated focus on programming, monetization and innovation, we are identifying cost savings and shifting capital allocations to high-growth areas where investment will drive growth and profitability. As part of these efforts, we are offering a Voluntary Separation Program to regular status Turner Broadcasting employees on Turner’s U.S. payroll working in the U.S. and who are at least age 55 and have 10 or more years of service as of December 31, 2014, excluding on-air talent and employees covered by a written employment agreement.

Today, employees meeting these eligibility requirements will receive a confidential, personalized email detailing the program, its benefits and deadlines for acceptance, which is strictly voluntary. This enhanced benefit offering is just one vehicle the company is implementing as part of a comprehensive plan. Given the current focus on reducing costs and prioritizing investments to maximize company performance, Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.

We are grateful to the tenured employees whose service and dedication to Turner Broadcasting have made an indelible mark on our business success.

This is all part of Martin’s goal to create a more “streamlined, nimble and efficient company” as part of his “Turner 2020″ plan.

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Executive Producer Changes at ABC News

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First on TVNewser: Big changes are coming to the producer ranks at ABC News.

TVNewser has learned “Good Morning America” Senior Executive Producer Tom Cibrowski (above, left) is being promoted to senior VP of programs, newsgathering and special events. Taking his place at the nation’s No. 1 morning show is current “World News” EP Michael Corn (above, center). Taking Corn’s job at “World News” is “Nightline” EP Almin Karamehmedovic. Karamehmedocvic, who has been with ABC News since 1989, arrives at “World News” as the program sees its first anchor change in nearly five years. David Muir takes over for Diane Sawyer next week.

Karamehmedocvic, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has deep roots in international reporting for ABC. In 2001 he was one of the first journalists to gain access to Tora Bora, Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden was holed up, and in 2003 was a U.S. Army embed during the invasion of Iraq. A replacement at “Nightline” will come later, we hear.

Corn leaves “World News” as the show has consistently been winning in the A25-54 demographic, while still trailing “NBC Nightly News” among total viewers. He joins “GMA” as that broadcast enters its third year as the No. 1 morning show.

The moves will be announced by ABC News president James Goldston this morning.

> More: Goldston’s notes to staffers, after the jump…

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The Scoreboard: Friday, August 22

25-54 demographic (Live +SD)

  • Total day: FNC: 256 | MSNBC: 103 | CNN: 179 | HLN: 76
  • Primetime: FNC: 283 | MSNBC: 130 | CNN: 226 | HLN: 105

4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p: 12a:
FNC
Cavuto:

220

TheFive:

312

Baier:

287

Greta:

197

O’Reilly:

288

Kelly:

303

Hannity:

258

O’Reilly:

259

Kelly:

218

MSNBC
Wagner:

54

EdShow:

109

Sharpton:

201

Matthews:

150

Hayes:

88

Maddow:

145

Lockup:

156

Lockup:

164

Lockup:

170

CNN
Tapper:

171

Blitzer:

208

Blitzer:

244

Burnett:

218

Cooper:

231

Cooper:

214

Tonight:

232

Tonight:

213

CNNI:

167

HLN
Now:

22

Files:

25

Files:

64

Files:

49

Files:

112

Files:

99

Files:

105

Files:

100

Files:

145

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Journalist Starts Different Kind of Bucket Challenge to Draw Attention to Gaza

The ALS Ice Bucket challenge has taken tvnewsers by storm–or freeze–this summer, and a journalist in Gaza was so inspired by it that he started a different challenge to to draw awareness to the plight of Gazans.

“I have to do something and to send a message all over the world about Gaza,” said journalist Ayman al Aloul, who started the “Rubble Bucket Challenge” on Saturday. Aloul said he first looked for water to use, but its scarcity made it too important to dump over people’s heads. The challenge has gained some social media buzz; the Facebook page has over 3,000 likes and hashtags #dustbucketchallenge and #remainsbucketchallenge are making the rounds.

NBC News Boss Says More Change is Ahead

Deborah TurnessBrian Williams calls her “a dynamo” and “a relentless journalist.” Matt Lauer has been “impressed by how she is able to focus on every aspect of the organization.”

The two main anchors of NBC News are talking about their boss, NBC News president Deborah Turness, now one year on the job. Turness tells the New York Times Bill Carter that for as much change as has already occurred, there’s more to come. “Some change isn’t easy. It’s painful, but an organization has to go through it. And a lot of that is still ahead,” Turness says.

“People in the organization from top to bottom recognized that NBC News hadn’t kept up with the times in all sorts of ways, for maybe 15 years,” Turness tells Carter. “I think the organization had gone to sleep.”

Insiders tell us that line is ruffling some feathers of longtime NBC Newsers. But then, maybe that’s her point.

How Cable News Covered Michael Brown’s Funeral, Al Sharpton’s Eulogy

Sharpton BrownThis afternoon, cable news covered the funeral of 18-year-old Michael Brown as one of MSNBC’s hosts continued being part of the story.

MSNBC was the only channel to air Al Sharpton‘s eulogy, dipping into it at 12:44pmET. “Order says that children bury their parents…we should not sit here today and act like we’re watching something that is in order,” Sharpton said to rousing chants from the crowd gathered at a St. Louis church.

MSNBC took Sharpton’s eulogy for 11 minutes before Chris Matthews, filling in for Andrea Mitchell, wrapped the noon eastern hour. Ronan Farrow opened his show speaking with Craig Melvin about his interview with Brown’s parents, but showing a full screen of Sharpton’s speech while Melvin reported.

During Sharpton’s eulogy, Fox News continued with its “Outnumbered” panel, who discussed topics ranging from James Foley‘s beheading to what time school should start for teens. At 1pmET, “Happening Now” opened airing images of Sharpton speaking live, then turning to Garrett Tenney outside the church. CNN aired Don Lemon interviewing CNN political commentator LZ Granderson and CNN contributor Donna Brazile. Ashleigh Banfield closed “Legal View” airing parts of Lemon’s interview with the mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Sean Bell.

During Sharpton’s eulogy, Fox News’ Howard Kurtz tweeted about his statements. And this morning, Don Lemon tweeted–about not tweeting. Read more

Dan Rather: If One of My Staffers Were Held Captive, I’d ‘Negotiate for Ransom’

Rather.jpgAppearing on “Reliable Sources” yesterday, Dan Rather reacted to the beheading of journalist James Foley and described what he’d do if one of his journalists were captured by terrorists.

“If some member of our ’Dan Rather Reports’ team was kidnapped, I’d be looking to negotiate for ransom,” Rather said.

“And you can criticize that if you want, damn if you want, but the loyalty to our people who work with us and take these great chances engenders loyalty back,” he continued.  Earlier in the program, Foley’s boss, GlobalPost CEO Phil Balboni, said “it’s suicide for a journalist to go into Syria now.”

Over on “MediaBuzz,” Howard Kurtz examined whether news organizations should’ve shown footage from Foley’s beheading. “We are not showing you images from the execution videotape, which were splashed all across television, and the web, and the New York tabloids, and social media.  And the reason is, that’s what ISIS wants; to spread fear and disgust, and most of the media played into their hands.

WATCH:

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Chuck Todd Aims to ‘Demystify Washington’ on ‘Meet the Press’

ToddAppearing on “Today” this morning, incoming “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd described how he sees his role upon taking the reins on September 7.

“The job of all of us, particularly in political reporting, is to demystify Washington for the American public, but then also try to translate the American public’s frustration for out of touch Washington people,” Todd said. “That’s part of the challenge, that’s part of when things are going well in the political journalism world it’s because we’re playing that role of basically being the translator, being the interpreter between America and Washington.”(watch after the jump)

And the executive who appointed Todd to the coveted moderator chair seems to have big plans of her own. In an interview with the the New York Times, NBC News President Deborah Turness revealed her vision for changes on Sunday morning.

Her new vision for “Meet the Press” includes adding a regular panel of journalists who will question guests, something of a return to the venerable show’s original format. “The show needs more edge,” she said. “It needs to be consequential. I think the show had become a talking shop that raked over the cold embers of what had gone on the previous week. The one-on-one conversation belongs to a decade ago. We need more of a coffeehouse conversation.”

WATCH:

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Chris Jansing to ‘MTP’ Staff: ‘It’s Been a Long Year, But Great Things Are Ahead’

JansingMTPFollowing her fill-in stint on “Meet the Press” Sunday, NBC’s senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing sent an email to the MTP staff to thank them for making her feel welcome. “I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t watch Meet The Press,” Jansing wrote. “And moving to the White House a scant six weeks ago, it never crossed my mind that I would be hosting it.” Jansing, along with MTP EP Rob Yarin and senior editor Shawna Thomas traveled to Guatemala last week to cover Sen. Rand Paul‘s mission to perform eye surgeries on those who otherwise couldn’t have afforded it. The interview aired on “Meet the Press” Sunday and will be turned into a half-hour special airing this weekend on MSNBC. Chuck Todd takes over as moderator Sept. 7. He’s back on MSNBC this morning hosting his “Daily Rundown.”

Read Jansing’s note after the jump…

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Jeff Zucker: ‘We Are Going to Do Less and Have to Do It With Less’

JeffZuckerCNNThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker shared grim news with some staffers this past week.

On the same day Turner CEO John Martin sent a memo to all Turner Broadcasting employees hinting at layoffs to help create a more “streamlined, nimble and efficient company,” Zucker told employees CNN will be affected.  “We are going to do less and have to do it with less,” he said in a Tuesday morning call with employees. The Journal-Constitution has a partial transcript.

“We now have a sense of what Turner is expecting from CNN. I am working with the senior management team at CNN to figure out what this means for us. This will result in changes and what we do and what we stop doing.  We need to continue to protect what we’ve been doing so brilliantly for the last few months. We need to have the ability to do what we’ve been doing. On the other hand, we are faced with reality, we are going to have to do what we do with less. As a result, that means there will be changes. No final decisions have been made. I will be meeting with senior management of CNN. You will hear from your manager in the next week or so.”

Zucker will certainly want to protect CNN’s investment in original series and documentaries; the type of programming he’s gone all in on since taking the reins last year. Which departments and programming are affected by cuts remains to be seen.

We’ve reached out to CNN on reports of impending layoffs, but haven’t heard back yet.

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