Cable News Network may be the oldest all-news channel, but it continues to make management and programming changes at the pace of a struggling start-up.
Last Tuesday, CNN shuffled its leadership team, promoting general manager Sid Bedingfield to executive editor of CNN News Group, a new post.
Teya Ryan — who as general manager of Headline News gutted the network's talent roster and hired former NYPD Blue
actress Andrea Thompson as a primetime anchor — was named CNN's general manager.
CNN en Español president Rolando Santos replaces Ryan at Headline News.
CNN then announced that it hired former Reagan administration cabinet member William Bennett to contribute to American Morning with Paula Zahn
and other programs.
Bennett adds a conservative voice to CNN, which has been labeled a liberal haven in the past.
The changes come after rival Fox News Channel beat 22-year-old CNN in terms of ratings, households and viewers in January — for the first time ever.
Fox pulled a 1.1 Nielsen Media Research rating and 840,000 households last month, topping CNN's 0.9 rating and 757,000 households.
CNN has added personality-driven programming to drive ratings. But one such show, Jeff Greenfield at Large, was cancelled on Feb. 15, replaced at 11 p.m. weeknights by a repeat of Crossfire.
While some CNN staffers regularly voice opinions on debate programs such as Crossfire, Bennett's role — to offer opinion during traditional news programming — appears to be a first for CNN.
NO CREDIT TO FOX
Bennett's hiring wasn't a response to the ascendancy of Fox News, which has seen some success by allowing anchors such as Bill O'Reilly to voice opinions during their shows, Bedingfield said.
Bedingfield also insisted that even though CNN is inserting commentaries into traditional news programs, the network isn't any less committed to its core newsgathering mission.
"I refuse to concede that somehow CNN is less of a news network because it has some analysis and commentary on it," Bedingfield said. "It's like saying The New York Times
is less of a newspaper because it has some columnists."
Bennett is director of public-policy group Empower America, which is "devoted to ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well being, freedom and individual responsibility," according to the organization's Web site.
Meanwhile, CNBC — which has also struggled in the ratings race — expanded its new focus on coverage of how general news stories affect business by hiring The Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau chief, Allan Murray, to co-host Capital Report
with Tyler Mathisen.