CNN Digital GM on Job Cuts: "We Did Too Much Too Fast"

Andrew Morse and Jeff Zucker - Split - Getty - H 2018
Left, Mike Pont, right, Daniel Zuchnik, both Getty Images

Andrew Morse and network president Jeff Zucker spoke to CNN employees on Tuesday.

With CNN slated to initiate a digital reorganization that will leave dozens of employees without jobs later this week, two CNN executives spoke separately to staff on Tuesday and elaborated on the company's strategy.

"We tried to do too much too fast," Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN Digital and executive vp editorial for CNN U.S., explained to digital employees. 

Morse said that CNN Digital's financial targets were "overly aggressive" and that "the monetization engine wasn't aligned with the growth strategy." But he assured employees that CNN Digital is a growing business and that executives are not "managing decline."

CNN Digital employees are likely on edge following a Monday story in Vanity Fair, which reported that are "as many as 50 jobs around the globe scheduled to be eliminated this week." (Morse said there were inaccuracies in the story but declined to be more specific when asked, according to someone who viewed the exchange.) 

CNN president Jeff Zucker, in a pre-planned but informal chat with New York-based employees, said that the total number of layoffs would be less than 50. Discussing the broader industry landscape, the exec pointed to the strengthening of the "digital duopoly," Facebook and Google, which suck up the lion's share of advertising revenue. He also mentioned changes in the way that platforms are allowing publishers like CNN to monetize the content they provide.

Employees asked both execs to identify the specific internal teams that will be disbanded, but neither would do so.

Despite the report on Monday, which came out ahead of the network's internal announcement, the cuts are still slated for later this week, wrapping up by Friday.