Zaz’s Whale, Zucker’s Chase & The British Guys

Mark Thompson
New CNN chief Mark Thompson in 2008. Until Thompson articulates his brave new business plan, the staff will be plodding forth, into 2024, without a framework for ameliorating the network’s ratings and reputational nadir. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
December 27, 2023

The year 2024, now just over the horizon, already seems brimming with uncertainty in virtually every theater: pivotal wars abroad, a highly consequential presidential election at home, the specter of life-reorienting and economy-uprooting A.I. everywhere, etcetera, etcetera. Much is at stake in the media business, obviously, as the industry lumbers toward further consolidation while struggling to keep pace with digital transformation and shifting business models. 

At this critical juncture, the questions bedeviling many institutions can seem existential: How do Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and NBCUniversal survive in the era of Apple and Amazon? Meanwhile, what will ESPN’s numbers look like naked on their own P&L? How will Tucker Carlson fare in the wilderness as an entrepreneur? Can organizations like CNN and The Washington Post be revived and their reputations restored, and what transmogrifications will that require? Does a foreign takeover of a treasured news entity—such as, say, The Telegraph—threaten to destroy its influence, or expand it?