CNNI's Cramer stepping down

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CNN International president Chris Cramer will retire from the network in the spring, CNN said Wednesday.

Cramer has been in charge of CNN International since 1996, hired by Ted Turner and Tom Johnson after a 26-year career at the BBC. Cramer, who has led CNN International to record distribution and revenue, will stay on to help with the transition until late March; no replacement has been announced.

"Chris will be leaving CNNI at the top of his game, with the international business he oversees in the very enviable position of being the most-watched, most-respected and most-copied news network in the world," CNN President Jim Walton said in a memo to the staff on Wednesday.

The 59-year-old Cramer said in an interview Wednesday he's leaving the network in good hands.

"My job's done here. Our international networks against the most incredible competition in the last decade in particular have done better and better and better," Cramer said. "Last year was a record year by any measure."

He praised CNN International's management team and the company itself for what it's accomplished.

"The company's continued to invest in international channels (and) continued to believe that good journalism is good business, and we're doing everything to strengthen the brand," Cramer said.

Cramer also is known for his strong strands for journalists around the world and his attention and efforts to keep them safe worldwide, especially in Iraq. CNN International has one of the strongest journalism safety programs in the business.

"It's a very scary, very dangerous time for the line of work you and I do, and the stakes are very high for the folks that we ask to go in and newsgather," Cramer said.

Said Walton: "Chris has been a champion and an industry leader in opening our eyes to the importance of recognizing and dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder. Over the years Chris has helped many people directly and worked with other news organizations to help them help their own people."

CNN International's model is to have correspondents all over the world, though not just for name's sake.

"This is not to do with pins on maps," Cramer said. "We've always believed the best way of telling stories is having people in country. We don't subscribe to parachute journalism. … That's not the way we choose to do it."

If 2006 was a record year for CNN International, it follows a 2005 that also was big with international stories like the London bombings, Hurricane Katrina and the south Asia tsunami. CNN International mobilized 70 journalists within 24 hours the day after Christmas 2004 to cover the tsunami, and helped its domestic network cover Hurricane Katrina by sending in producers and correspondents with similar experience.

Cramer said he's going to take two or three months off and then decide on his next career move. A U.S. citizen now, Cramer said he's interested in staying in the States, and Atlanta if he can.
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