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Isaacson to leave CNN, join Aspen Institute

Walter Isaacson, left, will be replaced as CNN chief by Jim Walton.
Walter Isaacson, left, will be replaced as CNN chief by Jim Walton.

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CNN chief Walter Isaacson talks with Wolf Blitzer about his decision to leave the company and join the Aspen Institute (January 13)
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Walter Isaacson announced Monday that he is leaving his post as CNN chief in April to become president and chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute.

Isaacson, 50, will be replaced by Jim Walton, 44, president and chief operating officer of CNN News Group. Eason Jordan, 42, president of newsgathering and chief news executive, will continue to oversee the network's newsgathering operations.

The changes were announced to CNN staff by Jamie Kellner, chairman and chief executive of Turner Broadcasting, who said Isaacson was leaving at his own request.

In a statement posted on CNN's computer system, Isaacson said, "This opportunity was unexpected and unsolicited, and the timing is not perfect, but it is exactly the type of job I have long wanted, so I did not feel I could let it pass.

"As those who know me realize, the job is a perfect match because it offers the chance to do things I truly love or want to do: writing, exploring ideas, engaging in policy issues, and seeking solutions to social and international problems."

Walton, a 22-year CNN veteran, said: "I am excited and honored to have this opportunity, both as a CNN veteran who has done virtually every job in the organization and as a journalist dedicated to maintaining our stature as the world's most powerful news organization."

The Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, runs educational programs for world leaders.

"With the participation of a wide range of policymakers -- from Margaret Thatcher to Jimmy Carter to Condoleezza Rice -- it has helped lay the groundwork for new approaches to national and world issues," Isaacson said.

Isaacson, 50, has worked at Time Inc., Time Warner and AOL Time Warner for 24 years, serving as managing editor of Time magazine before becoming chairman and chief executive of CNN News Group in July 2001.

"But I've long yearned and planned to have another phase in my life after journalism, and leading the Aspen Institute is the perfect fit that allows me to move on to what I've wanted to do next," he said.

Under his leadership, CNN "has kept faithful to its core mission of being the most authoritative and credible source of information in the world, emphasizing hard journalistic reporting more than opinion shows," he said.

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