CNN News Group chairman and CEO Tom Johnson last week
recruited veteran newspaper editor Shelby Coffey III to run CNN Business News and the
CNNfn cable channel.
Coffey, 53, was executive vice president of ABC News since
June 1998. He succeeds 19-year Cable News Network veteran Lou Dobbs, who resigned in
August to pilot Web start-up Space.com. Coffey will assume the CNN post Nov. 15.
A veteran newspaper editor, Johnson hired Coffey as editor
and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Times in 1989, when Johnson was
publisher of the daily. Coffey's move to CNN follows Johnson's unsuccessful
effort to recruit TheWall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger to
Johnson said Coffey met the four key criteria he was
looking for in the position: a person "who really wanted the job," a person who
had managed a large newspaper or news magazine, a "person with a real passion for
journalism" and a "person who would be a great team player."
While CNN's flagship business show, Moneyline,
has staved off competition from CNBC since Dobbs' departure, CNNfn has struggled for
cable carriage, picking up 12.5 million subscribers since its launch in December 1995.
"Clearly, I have been disappointed that we have been
unable to get more analog distribution," Johnson said last week. "I have been
assured by Time Warner [Inc. chairman] Gerry Levin and by others that we will get
additional carriage. I don't know how much."
Coffey said his focus will be to "emphasize breaking
news" and to "do more enterprise work."
Reporting investment news that is important to consumers
will also be a priority, Shelby said, adding, "Especially in this day when people
have 401Ks they are looking at the personal-finance and consumer aspect."
CNN plans to kick off a $25 million off-channel advertising
campaign today (Nov. 8), featuring movie star Gene Hackman providing the voice-over for a
set of commercials promoting Moneyline and its new hosts, Stuart Varney and Willow
Bay. The campaign includes local cable buys in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
Also today, the network plans to relaunch its Street
Sweep program from a new studio at the New York Stock Exchange. A cadre of CNN and
Time Warner executives, including Coffey and Johnson, will host a launch party at the