Zahn heads for the exit at CNN


NEW YORK -- A day after CNN announced that Campbell Brown will join the network in the fall, another high-profile anchor, Paula Zahn, did the expected and said that she is leaving.

The six-year CNN veteran's last day on the network will be Aug. 2. Her 8 p.m. slot, occupied by "Paula Zahn Now," will be filled by a stream of substitutes until Brown's as-yet-unnamed show takes over in November.

Zahn was approaching the end of her contract at year's end and, in the course of discussing the next step with CNN-U.S. president Jon Klein, they mutually decided there wasn't a place for her at CNN.

"After 30 years in the business I've worked every daypart on the dial, and there really wasn't anything here above and beyond the show that I was doing that would have been new to me," Zahn said Tuesday.

Zahn's departure had been long rumored following the failure of her primetime show, "Paula Zahn Now," to gain traction against Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" as well as MSNBC's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and CNN Headline News' "Nancy Grace." Although the ratings have improved recently and the show has won awards and critical attention for its coverage of topics like race relations, "Paula Zahn Now" remained mired in third and often fourth place in the ratings at 8 p.m.

"We were all very realistic about how fierce the competition was," Zahn said.

She said she was proud of the work her team did covering the news objectively during the past four years, when the show morphed between CNN presidents from a primetime politics show to a magazine show to its current format.

"I wish the next team tremendous success," Zahn said. "It is really a challenging hour."

Zahn said she wants to remain in the news business. She can't go on the air until the beginning of next year, per her contract.

Zahn joined CNN in fall 2001 after her high-profile departure from Fox News Channel. Her first day on the air was Sept. 11, 2001, when she helped Aaron Brown anchor the events of that day. She later became co-anchor of CNN's morning show before joining the primetime lineup.

Zahn anchored "The Fox Report" at Fox News Channel as well as "The Edge," a daily news program. Before joining Fox, Zahn was co-host of "CBS This Morning" and co-anchored the network's Olympics coverage in 1992 and 1994. She has also worked for ABC News and local stations in Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, Houston and Dallas.