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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Whitaker’

NBC News Toasts Cheryl Gould: ‘She Came to the Newsroom With a Fresh Perspective’

NUP_163612_0024.JPGCurrent and former NBC News talent, executives and producers gathered at 30 Rock last night to celebrate Cheryl Gould, who is retiring after 37 years at the network.

Gould was toasted by Tom Brokaw, former NBC News presidents Steve Capus and Bill Wheatley, and Andrea Mitchell, who called Gould a “pioneer” and “role model” for women in journalism. Among many other roles at NBC, Gould was the first female executive producer of “Nightly News.”

“She came to the newsroom with a fresh perspective — the idea that we can constantly raise the bar, that we’ve got to be reaching for the heights in terms of our obligation to our audience on a daily basis,” Brokaw said. “…She knew what she had to do was to change the DNA of news so that it had a wider lens attached to it.”

Also in attendance: Deborah Turness, Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, Bob Hager, Alexandra Wallace, David Corvo, Patrick Burkey, Don Nash, Ken Strickland, Liz Cole and Mark Whitaker, along with Gould’s fiancé and longtime partner, attorney Reid Weingarten.

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CNN Diversity Chair Stepping Aside

cnn logo_304x200The chairwoman of CNN’s diversity council will be stepping aside from that role, a spokesperson for CNN tells TVNewser.

The chairwoman, Johnita Due, is an assistant general counsel for CNN, and was first named chair of the company’s diversity council in 2005. She will remain with CNN in her role as assistant general counsel, contrary to a report this morning.

CNN says the diversity council is not being disbanded, and a new chairperson will be named soon. Maria Ebrahimji, who also sat on the council, is leaving CNN however. There are a “few dozen” members of the diversity council, a CNN spokesperson says.

CNN president Jeff Zucker has shaken up his executive leadership team since taking over the channel, so changes at the top of internal executive groups like the diversity council are not surprising. Diversity has been a hot topic at CNN since Zucker’s arrival, as a number of prominent minority voices left, such as Soledad O’Brien, Ali Velshi and Mark Whitaker.

That said, Zucker has been very vocal about diversity being an important part of CNN’s DNA, and he met with black and Latino journalists early into his tenure to talk about the issue.

The Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince has more.

Morgan Spurlock, CNN’s New ‘Inside Man,’ In His Element

Photo Credit: Alex Weprin

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has been busy the last few months, weaving between tales of immigrants, marijuana growers and–yes–John Stamos and English boy band One Direction. At any given moment his production office is buzzing with people juggling TV shows, films and web series.

Spurlock says he is “platform agnostic,” though he acknowledges that each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages.

“The beauty of television is deadlines, you could fuck with a movie forever,” Spurlock says, reclining in a leather chair in his New York City office. “Having deadlines forces you to make choices, and being in a position where you have to make a choice and make it now, is fantastic. With movies—Picasso once said about paintings, you never finish paintings, you merely abandon them—and that is what happens with movies, with documentary films you abandon them at some point, because you can’t work on them forever.”

Spurlock’s new CNN series, “Inside Man,” debuts Sunday at 10 PM, and all but one episode has been delivered to the channel. His production crew is hard at work on a film (in 3D) about One Direction called “This Is Us,” which will be released August 30th. They are also staffing up for a web series starring Stamos.

“For season two we will do ‘Inside Man’ in 3D!” Spurlock quips.

“Inside Man” came to fruition fairly quickly. Spurlock had been meeting with CNN for some time, including with former managing editor Mark Whitaker, but it was during a meeting with CNN development senior VP Vinnie Malhotra that the show came to life.

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Al Jazeera America Interviews Finalists For President Role

Al Jazeera America is closing in on finding its president.

Last week, Ehab Al Shihabi (pictured left), the executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera and the senior executive in charge of developing Al Jazeera America, was in New York City, where he interviewed the final candidates for the leadership role, TVNewser has learned.

Those interviews are likely one of the last hurdles before the channel decided who its new chief executive should be. Among the candidates said to be under consideration: former CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein, former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker and former ABC News chief David Westin. We haven’t heard of any new names surfacing recently, though if you have, drop us a line.

Al Jazeera America is still on track to launch later this year, though an exact launch date is unclear. But that has not stopped the network from staffing up. Among the recent hires: CNN’s Ali Velshi, NBC’s Mike Viqueira and just today, investigative journalist Josh Bernstein.
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Bart Feder Leaving CNN

First On TVNewser: CNN senior VP of current programming Bart Feder is leaving the cable news channel, TVNewser has learned. His last day at the company will be May 24.

“Bart Feder and I have been in discussions over the last couple of weeks about his role in the company and he has decided that it is time to move on and take his career in a new direction,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker wrote in a note to staff this afternoon.

As is the case at most companies, with a new boss comes a new leadership team. Zucker has made a number of personnel changes since taking over earlier this year, both on-air and off-air.

We hear that Feder’s responsibilities will primarily be absorbed by trusted Zucker deputy Michael Bass, who joined CNN last month from syndicated talk show “Katie,” which Zucker helped launch.

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Al Jazeera America On The Hunt For Chief

TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman weighs in on Al Jazeera America, which is currently on the lookout for a chief executive to run the new channel, which will take over the channel space of Current TV later this year.

Waxman has a list of names that she says are in consideration, and there are many familiar faces. Current TV chief David Bohrman is said not to be in the running, while Steve Capus is said to be “skeptical.”

One of the leading candidates, according to Waxman, is former CNN/U.S. chief Jonathan Klein:

Klein, who was fired in 2010, has the news experience and is believed to want the job. According to an individual with knowledge of his thinking, Klein believes there is a ripe opportunity for a news network to occupy the niche that CNN used to — in other words, hard-core reporting with serious journalists.

Others on the list include former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker, former ABC News president David Westin and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.

January 2013 Ratings: A Mixed Bag For CNN To Start The Year

CNN has already undergone two major management changes this year — president Jeff Zucker‘s installation and managing editor’s Mark Whitaker‘s departure — as the network continues to seek a shot in the arm for its ratings. In the first month of 2013, CNN was up slightly in Total Viewers and down in the demo in Total Day, and down double digits across the board in primetime.

The ratings for January 2013:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 664,000 Total Viewers / 200,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 428,000 Total Viewers / 135,000 A25-54

Compared to January 2012, CNN is +2% in Total Viewers and down -3% in A25-54 viewers in Total Day. In primetime, the declines were steeper: the network is down -22% in Total Viewers and -30% among younger viewers. It should be noted that CNN hosted two GOP primary debates that boosted primetime ratings last January.

CNN’s early evening programming was a bright spot in January. All three hours of “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” are up double digits in both ratings measurements compared to the same month last year. “Erin Burnett OutFront” was also up compared to January 2012, +13% in Total Viewers and +18% in the demo.

In primetime, “Piers Morgan Tonight” is up +10% in Total Viewers but down slightly, -2%, among adults 25-54. The 8pmET edition of “Anderson Cooper 360″ is up slightly compared to last year, +5% in Total Viewers and +3% in the demo, but the 10pmET re-air of the program is down -20% and -27%, respectively.

A year after it’s official launch, “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien” continues to show lackluster growth, +4% in Total Viewers and +1% in the demo year-over-year. This morning, CNN announced Chris Cuomo as the anchor of a revamped CNN morning show that is currently in development.

CNN Political Contributors Carville, Matalin and Erickson Leaving

What a day at CNN.

CNN confirms that political contributors James Carville and Mary Matalin are leaving the channel.  TVNewser has also confirmed that Erick Erickson will be leaving CNN and joining Fox News as a contributor.

The moves follow executive VP and managing editor Mark Whitaker‘s announcement this morning that he would be leaving the company, and the addition of Chris Cuomo to a new morning program.

Our sister blog FishbowlDC first had the scoop.

Carville and Matalin have been political contributors and hosts at CNN for the better part of 20 years, while Erickson joined the channel in March of 2010. The network still has a slew of political contributors, including Paul Begala, Ari Fleischer and Donna Brazile, though the impact had by the DC power couple cannot be overstated.


It’s Official: Chris Cuomo Leaves ABC For CNN

CNN and ABC News have made it official: ABC anchor Chris Cuomo is joining the cable channel to host a new morning program.

“Chris is an accomplished anchor who is already an established name in morning television, as well as a widely respected investigative journalist,” said CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker in a statement. “What I love about Chris is that he is passionate about every story he tells, never forgets about the viewer, and represents the type of journalism that makes CNN great.”

As for Soledad O’Brien, who has held down the morning shift for the last year on “Starting Point,” it seems her future with the network is up in the air: “Soledad is very important to the network, and we’re discussing various options with her,” a CNN spokesperson says.

Cuomo had been the anchor of ABC’s “20/20″ and the network’s chief legal correspondent. With his jump to CNN he will be returning to the morning shift he once held when he was the news anchor at “Good Morning America” from 2006-2009. Before joining ABC News in 2000, he was a correspondent at Fox News Channel.

He is the third significant ABCer to leave the network in the last month. White House correspondent Jake Tapper jumped to CNN in December, with correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi leaving for “60 Minutes Sports” earlier this month.

Cuomo, the brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, broke out from his family’s political legacy and forged his own in the media business. Andrew Cuomo confirmed that his younger brother was leaving for CNN while calling in to an Albany radio station this morning.

CNN is in the midst of redefining itself under Zucker. CNN executive VP and managing editor Mark Whitaker announced his decision to leave the network this morning.

Zucker’s memo to CNN staff after the jump.

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Mark Whitaker Leaving CNN

CNN executive VP and managing editor Mark Whitaker is leaving the network, multiple people familiar with the decision tell TVNewser.

Whitaker joined CNN two years ago and was the first person to fill the EVP/managing editor position. In that role, he shaped CNN Worldwide’s editorial content, including the “overall approach, tone and direction of CNN’s reporting,” the network said at the time. Now, CNN says it is eliminating the managing editor position.

He also occasionally went hands-on with programming, as with Soledad O’Brien‘s “Starting Point” morning show. Whitaker oversaw the development of the show, which has failed to jump-start CNN in the mornings. CNN is planning to revamp its morning lineup, potentially with ABC anchor Chris Cuomo.

Whitaker departs right as his old boss Jeff Zucker enters CNN. Zucker will be leading CNN’s editorial direction going forward.

Update: In a memo to staff obtained by TVNewser, Whitaker cites Zucker’s arrivial as the impetus behind the decision to leave.

[With] Jeff Zucker’s arrival, we have a new leader with his own forceful ideas about where to take CNN’s reporting, programming and brand. For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff. I have shared that conclusion with him and he has agreed to let me step down as Managing Editor and move on from CNN.

As someone who worked with Jeff at NBC, I know what a bold innovator he is, and I wish him and you all the best as you embark on CNN’s next great adventure.

In a statement, Zucker said:

“I want to thank Mark for his service at CNN. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him the best in the future.”

Whitaker’s full memo, after the jump.
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