Jim Walton graduated from the University of Maryland in 1981 and took an entry-level job at CNN, the network Ted Turner had founded only a year before. Now, after many titles and many changes, Walton will be going out on top, even as the CNN brand struggles to maintain audience and relevance day to day.
The Time Warner-owned media giant announced Friday that Walton will be stepping down as president of CNN Worldwide at year’s end.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years – innovative programming, the development of great talent in front of and behind the cameras, expansion in digital and mobile, significant investment and expansion in international coverage, financial success and, most importantly, great and trusted journalism,” Walton wrote in a note to the staff.
Of course there are also plenty of things he probably won’t miss about the job.[more]
Walton was the exec forced to apologize in 2008 to the entire nation of China for comments of then-CNN host Jack Cafferty, who remarked that the country was filled with “goons and thugs” and manufactured “junk.” And dealing with Larry King’s endless exit couldn’t have been fun, either.
Either way, Walton acknowledges that CNN needs fresh leadership and direction and he has “interests to explore” that he wants to give himself time to actually go and do.
For a father of two sons in his mid-50s who has pulled in some serious bucks and hours in recent years while pouring a lot of energy into a difficult business, that sounds like a pretty good thing to do. We’re also willing to bet a logo refresh and image update can’t be far behind, either.