The announcement that CNN has vacated the building will soon be made.
The renowned CNN Center in Atlanta is no longer financially feasible for the network. After more than 35 years, instead, CNN operations are returning to the Techwood Turner Broadcasting campus in midtown Atlanta, where they first started in 1980.
For long years, Atlanta’s corporate headquarters and international calling card were combined at CNN Center. With the network’s emblem becoming part of the Atlanta skyline, it served as both the location of Ted Turner’s first 24-hour news station and a popular tourist destination.
However, CNN’s departure from the office complex bearing its name has been planned for years. Years ago, CNN effectively relocated to New York, and the enormous CNN Center has been gradually demolished. When young, hungry, and somewhat disorganized CNN reporters dared to enter the traditional media’s reporting domain, the latter mocked them as the “Chicken Noodle Network.” But CNN was able to make a name for itself thanks to guaranteed steady cable subscription revenues, sales of advertising, and rising viewership.
As of 1987, the network had flourished to the point where it controlled and occupied the Omni Center, which had been constructed in 1976 but was largely empty when Turner and his staff moved in. That has been a place where visitors were greeted by a spacious atrium where they could shop, eat, and take tours of CNN telecasting facilities. The rights to “Gone With the Wind” and other masterpieces had just been acquired by Turner from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, and it was the beginning of what would later become the Turner Classic Movies network. The atrium featured a theater with continuous showings of the 1939 Atlanta-based classic.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN Center developed into a popular tourist destination in Atlanta even before the College Football Hall of Fame, World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, and Centennial Olympic Park moved into the area. “That building and that real estate is part of the postcard of Atlanta. Ted created an entire industry here and helped build the city’s international status,” A.J Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress said.
In fact, Mike Landry from Western Journal worked with a friend to produce a marketing video for Atlanta-area real estate not long after CNN Center debuted. They discovered that CNN Center was a crucial location for their filming because it was a brand-new, vibrant local hotspot. Landry learned that CNN has a different editorial lean from the media outlets on the New York-Washington axis because of its Atlanta location during a private tour of CNN’s broadcast facilities.
And eventually, CNN came to be known as the “Clinton News Network” by Rush Limbaugh and by a harsher moniker, the “Communist News Network,” which was followed by a decline in viewing, as we all knew how it turned out.
However, the CNN center, the network’s global reach, and its popular acceptability following its ongoing coverage of the 1991 Gulf War were all reflections of CNN’s early years.
It helped to have captive audiences watching single-channel airport television sets.
Turner’s showmanship was reflected in CNN Center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recalls that from 1994 to 2003, the building’s atrium served as the home of the network’s afternoon talk show “Talkback Live.”
According to the first host of the program, Susan Rook, “Putting ‘Talkback Live’ in that fishbowl in the middle of the atrium was clearly a stupid idea. It was sometimes amazing, sometimes chaotic and sometimes head-scratchingly ‘What’?”
Rook, who was on the program from 1994 to 1997 added, “I felt like I was always on the creative edge.”
The “postcard of Atlanta” concept was devised by the network’s global audience in addition to the building’s straightforward CNN logo, which helped the city gain recognition throughout the world.
Tom Johnson, a former president of CNN, expressed his “heartbreak” about the network leaving CNN Center.
“So many of my friends tell me how they’re going to miss that wonderful CNN logo on top of CNN Center. It just meant so much to us,” Johnson said.
The departure from CNN Center has come as a surprise to some network employees. As to a point by comparing it to receiving a phone call and learning that your parents were selling Grandma’s house, as Tenisha Tidwell, a former executive producer described.
She said, “No! You don’t sell grandma’s house! I had so many memories there, the laughter, the people.”
But why is there no longer a CNN Center? So, what happened?
Well, there are several causes. For starters, the Journal-Constitution reports that CNN operations in Atlanta have been evaporating. With the network’s administrative center located in New York, they now belong to the coastal elite axis it was mentioned before.
In order to save costs, AT&T, which had previously been CNN’s parent company, sold CNN Center to CP Group and Rialto Capital Management in 2021.
The Journal-Constitution said that the pandemic also reduced demand for office space in downtown Atlanta.
The glamorous child of the Turner era is no longer there (Turner Broadcasting sold it to Time Warner in 1996). CNN itself is another option.
CNN remains far behind Fox in the cable news ratings, despite efforts to change its programming, allegedly due to its overtly liberal slant.
In an election year like 2022, a news network finds it challenging to explain rating decline. Veterans from CNN are also leaving.
The CNN Center no longer exudes enthusiasm; the building’s future is uncertain; and the network itself is in disarray.
Atlanta’s skyline is altering as a result of the brilliant CNN logo’s removal, which symbolized one aspect of the city’s global significance. But as they talk about the building that formerly housed the network, CNN’s name will surely remain in the minds of many in Atlanta.
To them, it’s still the Sears Tower, it’s just like Chicagoans still call that Willis structure on the west side of the Loop by the name it lost in 2009.