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CNN won’t be at its iconic downtown Atlanta headquarters much longer, much to the chagrin of some former employees and staffers.
According to reports this week, the media giant is undergoing a significant shift in operations out of the building, moving all operations to the Turner Techwood campus in Midtown, which is located outside the city. Matt Vespa at Townhall noted some recent history involving the location:
When left-wing mobs tried to breach the facility during the summer of 2020, maybe it was a window into the future. George Floyd had just been killed in Minneapolis by ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, which set off a wave of protests across the country. Violent leftist mobs burned down half the country with the contentious 2020 election in the backdrop, along with the COVID pandemic.
And CNN was there covering the violent, but mostly peaceful unlawful civil unrest that set records in damaged property claims. CNN’s Atlanta headquarters was targeted, with confrontations spilling into the lobby. The building also housed a police precinct, so while the building was vandalized, protesters could go no further due to police protection.
“After more than 35 years, CNN is leaving its downtown mainstay in stages this year, with the entire operation moving back to renovated space at the 30-acre Turner Techwood campus in Midtown, according to a CNN spokeswoman,” reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, referencing a site named after CNN’s founder, billionaire Ted Turner.
Turner chose Atlanta because his vision for the network was not to get caught up in the influences of the Washington, D.C.-New York news cycles, but over the decades, the network has migrated to those ZIP codes anyway.
Reports noted that in the early days, however, Turner had the studios designed so that tourists could get as close to the live TV action as possible without disrupting operations. The HQ building also housed most of the network’s operations, but former and current owners, AT&T and Warner Bros. Discovery, respectively, have been steadily moving operations to the Turner campus since around 2020. The move out of the HQ will be complete by year’s end.
A couple of former CNN staffers voiced their displeasure with the decision to leave the property entirely.
“I am heartbroken,” Tom Johnson, CNN president from 1990 to 2001, told the AJC. “So many of my friends tell me how they’re going to miss that wonderful CNN logo on top of CNN Center. It just meant so much to us.”
“It was like getting a phone call and finding out your parents were selling grandma’s house,” added Tenisha Tidwell, a former executive producer, to the newspaper.“No! You don’t sell grandma’s house! I had so many memories there, the laughter, the people.”
The move is seen as a cost-cutting measure while the network continues its struggle to attract viewers, losing out to cable news leader Fox News and even liberal competitor MSNBC. According to end-of-the-year figures, Fox News Channel placed 92 shows in the top 100 on all cable TV this year.
“FOX News Channel (FNC) notched its seventh year as leader in all of cable television while delivering the third highest-rated year ever in cable news history for 2022 in total day viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research,” a press release from the network noted in December.
“The network’s programs continued to break new ratings records throughout the year, resulting in FNC continuing as the number one cable network in primetime and total day in viewers in basic cable for the seventh consecutive year and the highest-rated cable news network for the 21st straight year,” it continued.
FNC boss Suzanne Scott noted: “From America’s choice on election night to the home of late night’s smash hit show, 2022 was a testament to our unmatched skill in delivering the most innovative news and opinion programming to our audience which continues to rank as the most politically diverse in cable news. I am beyond proud of our entire team’s incredible achievements this year.”