CBS News staffers are chafing under ‘rude,’ cost-slashing new boss Neeraj Khemlani

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A tricky, new boss at CBS News is slashing prices in a bid to revamp the struggling community — and he’s additionally scary complaints from staff, with some grumbling that he’s “rude” and “micromanaging.”

Rank-and-file on the third-place community gripe that co-president Neeraj Khemlani — a former Hearst government who together with ex-ABC government Wendy McMahon took the reins in May — is demanding extra work at the same time as he axes sources, with some elevating issues that ruthless bean counting at CBS News is “cutting it to the bone.”

As reported by The Post, the struggling community is reassessing budgets amid issues that it could now not have the ability to afford big-name anchors comparable to Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who are at present renegotiating their contracts since final 12 months’s departure of Susan Zirinsky, the legendary newshound who had beefed up their compensation.

Neeraj Khemlani
“I don’t think people would be surprised if he’s not here in a couple months,” some staffers stated of boss Neeraj Khemlani
Hearst; Post photograph composite

Behind the scenes, ticked-off staff grumble that Khemlani cultivates a “Shark Tank”-like investor’s persona that’s centered on “poking holes” in enterprise plans and demanding to know the “return on investment” for new initiatives. Some have complained of “micro aggressions” that embrace calling staffers late and on weekends and leveling powerful questions in conferences about to-do lists at the same time as many departments are understaffed.

CBS News signage on the ViacomCBS headquarters during a winter storm in New York
CBS News staffers described Khemlani’s administration type as brash, impolite and dismissive.
Bloomberg by way of Getty Images

According to a number of sources, Khemlani’s sharp elbows haven’t solely spurred a number of staffers to file human sources complaints, but in addition led brokers for CBS staff to complain on their purchasers’ behalf to CBS CEO George Cheeks, who employed Khemlani after taking the helm final January. It’s unclear whether or not any disciplinary motion has been taken.

“There has never been a more unpopular news division president,” stated one CBS veteran. “I don’t think people would be surprised if he’s not here in a couple months.”

neeraj khemlani cbs
“Cutting it to the bone:” Rank-and-file at third-place community CBS gripe that co-president Neeraj Khemlani is demanding extra work at the same time as he axes sources.
Post photograph composite

Prepping for a deal?

Some staff speculated that Cheeks tapped Khemlani on the behest of ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish and chair Shari Redstone to cut overhead at CBS and merge it with Comcast, which already has a information division. Others consider that the steep cuts are associated to Viacom’s 2019 merger with CBS, which promised value synergies of $300 million in 2020 and a three-year goal of $800 million.

In this screengrab, George Cheeks attends the 3rd Annual African-American Film Critics Association TV Honors Virtual Event Ceremony on August 21, 2021.
CBS CEO George Cheeks introduced in Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon to reorganize the corporate because it reorients to a digital and streaming future.
by way of Getty Images

“They probably need to hit targets post-merger,” stated a CBS insider. “But the bigger question is: What is their long-term strategy if there isn’t an investment in news?”

One well-placed supply stated Bakish is keenly centered on ViacomCBS’s streaming enterprise, which incorporates Paramount+, the corporate’s subscription service, which homes programming from film studio Paramount, CBS, Comedy Central and different properties. More subscribers and extra advert income for these providers “drive the stock price,” the supply stated.

CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell broadcasts live from Washington DC with continued coverage on Inauguration 2021
CBS News’ value reducing has induced some on the community to query whether or not the community will shell out the large bucks to maintain anchors like Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King.
CBS by way of Getty Images

“Neeraj and Wendy are in the process of leading CBS News and Stations into a dual broadcast and streaming future,” Cheeks informed The Post in a press release. “At every turn, their moves have been thoughtful, strategic and forward-thinking. Change is hard. Evolution is necessary. I support their vision for a next-generation news operation.”

A rep from CBS News added: “You’ll be seeing several new hire announcements in the coming weeks that will build on this momentum. Part of any successful transformation is change, and that involves deploying resources in different ways. Make no mistake, this is not about cutting; it’s about building and positioning CBS News and its prestigious brand to compete and succeed in a broadcast and streaming world.”

Awkward video name

Some staffers within the trenches, in the meantime, say they are rising weary of dodging bullets from Khemlani.

One worker recounted a video convention that the exec held in the course of the first week he began. With roughly 200 staffers on the decision, Khemlani took digs at varied information groups, lamenting how slowly they bought on the air to report breaking tales, amongst different powerful judgments.

Wendy McMahon
CBS News co-president Wendy McMahon has been charged with beefing up the community’s native and affiliate stations.

Angry staffers took to Slack after the assembly, remarking how “bold” it was for Khemlani, an government with “little journalism experience,” to return in weapons blazing on day one.

Khemlani and his co-president McMahon changed Zirinsky, who had succeeded David Rhodes as CBS News president following a turbulent interval marred by sexual misconduct allegations that ousted CBS CEO Les Moonves, “60 Minutes” boss Jeff Fager and others.

During her two-year tenure, Zirinsky reshuffled the community’s morning present anchor lineup, sending co-host O’Donnell to anchor the expensive revamped “CBS Evening News.” Both the morning and night exhibits remained in third place, as Zirinsky, a journalist by coaching, had bother navigating the company tradition of the community. 

Sources stated McMahon has been increase native information stations to herald promoting {dollars}. Recently, she spearheaded the creation of a hyper-local information division in Detroit that focuses on streaming and stay information protection. CBS’ native station WWJ-TV will run the division, which can launch subsequent 12 months.

Jane Pauley ‘ripped off’

Meanwhile, Khemlani has been working to reverse a scores hunch at “CBS This Morning.” Last fall, he modified the present’s title to “CBS Mornings” and changed co-anchor Anthony Mason with Nate Burleson, who joined King and Tony Dokoupil on the anchor desk. He additionally moved the present from CBS’ Broadcast Center on 57th road to a second-floor studio in ViacomCBS’ company headquarters in Times Square.

: CBS Mornings Co-Hosts Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil, and Nate Burleson on first live broadcast in new Times Square studio.
“CBS Mornings” co-hosts Tony Dokoupil, Gayle King and Nate Burleson on the present’s first stay broadcast in its new Times Square studio.
CBS by way of Getty Images

“All CBS News morning broadcasts will now be part of the same family,” Khemlani introduced in an August press launch, including the exhibits will probably be “connected by the sound of the iconic trumpet music and an ethos of optimism that carries all the way through to the sunshine logo itself.”

Critics stated the strikes quantity to “CBS Mornings” copying the branding of Jane Pauley’s “CBS Sunday Morning,” utilizing the present’s golden yellow solar brand and music theme. Staffers on Pauley’s present are “pissed” that the exec “ripped off” their present, an insider stated.

 CBS Mornings Co-Hosts Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil, and Nate Burleson broadcast live from Times Square.
Employees complained that the new “CBS Mornings’” studio in Times Square is less than par, because it lacks home windows and is just too expensive to replace.
CBS by way of Getty Images

“He stole the DNA of the place,” the supply added. “The worry is that you’re diluting the brand.”

Sources stated “CBS Mornings” star King, like staffers, has been irritated that the home windows overlooking Times Square have been coated up. Onlookers from the road can’t see the stay broadcast, whereas anchors inside sit in entrance of massive LED screens that mission a manufactured view of Times Square.

Gayle King
Gayle King, the community’s greatest star, is renegotiating her contract, however staff worry CBS News received’t pony up sufficient cash to get her to signal a new multi-year deal.
CBS by way of Getty Images

According to a report from trade publication Newscast Studio, an preliminary studio design calling for actual views of Times Square “proved too costly to add extensive amounts of glass due to structural issues with the building.”

Sources added that ViacomCBS has had bother renting out the area, which had as soon as broadcast MTV’s “Total Request Live” a few years in the past. This was probably a manner for the corporate to “pawn off” the hire to CBS, a supply sniffed.

‘Morale problem’

Although “CBS Mornings” remains to be in final place behind NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a CBS rep stated the present is “is up 7 percent and 9 percent in the key demos in its first 16 weeks more than competition.” She added that it “ended the season closer to NBC and ABC than any other time in CBS history.”

Meanwhile, sources informed The Post of a drumbeat of exits — some voluntary, some not — which embrace senior vice chairman of human sources Jose Andino; government vice chairman and common supervisor of CBS News Digital Christy Tanner; CBS News inventive director Renee Cullen; senior vice chairman of CBS News Digital Susanne Mei; investigative reporter Mireya Villarreal; CBS News former requirements and international editor Tony Cavin; CBS News government producer of Special Events Eva Nordstrom; and senior government producer for streaming service CBSN Darius Walker. 

Signage on the ViacomCBS headquarters during a winter storm in New York
Staffers at CBS fear that the mother or father firm ViacomCBS is reducing prices as a way to put together for a sale.
Bloomberg by way of Getty Images

“When you’re being asked to do more with less, it contributes to a morale problem,” a supply stated. “And when you don’t feel appreciated and you’re not paid well, people vote with their feet.”

“The question is, what is the company’s vision?” one other added. “A strategy, a vision sometimes can get people to get people to work harder for little money. But I don’t think they see a vision. I’m not sure there is one.”

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