CNN chooses to celebrate 30th anniversary by giving

By Maria Saporta

There was little fanfare for CNN’s 30th birthday on June 1.

Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting System — parent company of CNN, said the low-key recognition was intentional.

“Instead of throwing ourselves parties and having lots of hoopla, we decided on a charitable approach,” Kent said. “To me, anniversaries are an opportunity to focus on the task at hand.”

So the 30th anniversary celebration was turned into “Give 30 for 30.”

Turner was allocating $30 for every one of its employees — CNN plus all the other TBS employees — to go to 30 charities. TBS has about 11,000 employees, so that translates into $330,000 being donated to mark the 30th birthday.

Previously, major CNN birthdays have been marked by parties and celebrations.

This year, such parties were informal — put on primarily by former CNN employees. A group of CNN alumni gathered Tuesday evening at Ted’s Montana Grill — a restaurant chain founded by CNN founder — Ted Turner.

On Tuesday morning, Kent hosted the Atlanta Committee for Progress at CNN Center. Earlier this year, Kent was elected chair of ACP — the influential group of business leaders that work closely with the City of Atlanta, including former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and current Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The only sign that June 1 was a special day for CNN was when one of the television screens feeding channels of Turner and CNN ran a spot on the 30th anniversary.

Kent told me he wanted to make sure folks knew that he was chairing his first ACP meeting at CNN Center on its 30th anniversary.

Done.

Later that day, Turner spokeswoman Misty Skedgell sent me this link about the 30th anniversary — including an interview with Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, about the occasion.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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