In a report by The New York Times, it was revealed that Mark Thompson, the former Chief Executive of The New York Times Company and the Director General of the BBC, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive and Chairman of CNN.
The official announcement was made by Warner Bros. Discovery, the entity overseeing CNN, in a statement. According to the statement, Thompson is set to assume his new role at CNN on October 9.
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, praised Thompson’s innovative capabilities, stating, “Mark is a true innovator who has transformed two of the world’s most respected news organizations for the digital age.” Zaslav commended Thompson’s strategic vision, transformational leadership, and unwavering passion for news, deeming him an influential figure for CNN and journalism, especially given the current pivotal moment.
One of Thompson’s significant challenges at CNN will involve navigating the network through the transition to a more digital-oriented future as the cable television business undergoes decline.
CNN’s previous attempt at transitioning to a streaming service, CNN+, was short-lived and faced setbacks shortly after its announcement. Despite securing high-profile talent like Chris Wallace from Fox News, the service was discontinued due to the network’s focus on cost-saving measures after its merger.
Thompson has a track record of reshaping traditional media assets and pursuing innovative growth strategies. He is perceived to be quite distinct from the network’s previous CEO, Chris Licht. Notably, Thompson orchestrated a strategic plan that revitalized The New York Times Company during a challenging financial period, ultimately repositioning it as a product-oriented entity with a successful portfolio of lifestyle businesses supporting its news gathering operations.
Mark Thompson’s appointment comes after Chris Licht’s tumultuous year as head of CNN, which ended with Licht’s departure. Licht was brought in to replace Jeff Zucker after revelations of an affair with a company employee.
His tenure was marked by attempts to recalibrate the network’s tone and coverage, particularly with regard to topics like COVID-19 and former President Donald Trump. Licht’s changes led to the dismissal of several prominent figures and a shift towards neutral, fact-based reporting, but this approach was met with resistance from some on-air talent, ultimately culminating in his termination.