After all the rumors and all the hoopla it was confirmed yesterday that Jeff Zucker has officially been appointed CNN Worldwide President. Zucker replaces Jim Walton, who is retiring at the end of 2012.
The Time Warner-owned cable news network suffered from record low ratings in 2012, hitting a 21-year primetime ratings low in the spring. The original 24-hour cable news network fell into a distant third place behind rival MSNBC and cable news leader Fox News. Walton announced his resignation over the summer, saying the network needed new leadership and “new thinking.”
Though Zucker does not begin his post till the end of January, he decided to communicate with the staff directly after the network announcement on Thursday. Zucker is currently the executive producer of Katie Couric’s syndicated daytime talker, Katie, where he will remain through mid-January.
Katie Couric through a statement of her own related, “I’m very excited that Jeff has such a wonderful opportunity at CNN and equally excited for CNN. I’m also grateful that Jeff has been so instrumental in getting our show off to such a strong start and look forward to working with the fantastic staff we’ve assembled and building on the strong foundation we’ve created.”
According to Huffington Post today, Zucker immediately sent out a memo to his new staff writing: “I don’t have all the answers. No one does. But I hope that we can challenge each other to think even more broadly about what CNN is and can be, and to enhance this truly special and powerful brand.” Then, on a phone call with press on Thursday, Zucker said he planned to “remain true to the journalistic values” of CNN, but will also aim to “broaden the definition of what news is.” One way in which the network seems to be “broadening its definition of news” is through its decision to air a wider variety of reality and nonfiction programming.
So what do you think of the appointment of Zucker to head CNN? Does this mean more doom for Katie? Or, could this change at the top actually help her talk show? Weigh-in!