CNN Is Closing Its Iconic CNN Center in Atlanta

AP Photo/Ron Harris

CNN has been a part of the fabric of Atlanta since local media magnate Ted Turner launched the network in 1980, and it’s literally been part of the city’s skyline and footprint since it moved to a prominent spot in downtown Atlanta in 1987.


Sadly, CNN has concentrated most of its operations in New York City and Washington, D.C., in recent years, and soon CNN’s downtown presence will only be a memory. The network is moving out of its downtown space in what we now know as the CNN Center.

“After more than 35 years, CNN is leaving its downtown mainstay in stages this year, with the entire operation moving back to renovated space at the 30-acre Turner Techwood campus in Midtown, according to a CNN spokeswoman,” reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Originally, the appeal of CNN locating itself in Atlanta was that it remained at a safe enough distance from the coastal elites to maintain an unbiased view of events, at least in theory. But the network gradually moved its operations to the places it initially sought to distance itself from. Only some of the behind-the-scenes operations remain in Atlanta.

And this year, CNN’s presence in the city’s downtown area will disappear. In 1987, Turner bought the former Omni Complex, located inside a hotel and briefly home to an ice-skating rink, a bar owned by Burt Reynolds, and the World of Sid & Marty Krofft, a failed indoor theme park. (I remember visiting the attraction as a young kid, and it was truly weird.)


Turner transformed the complex into a tourist attraction as well as a working 24-hour news studio. The network designed its studio tours to get guests as close to the broadcast action as possible without interfering with operations. The tours drew 300,000 visitors a year until the pandemic shut them down.

CNN also hosted a live talk show from the CNN Center for nearly a decade, and the complex included interactive activities where guests could record themselves reporting the news — with the occasional anchor popping in to join them by surprise — and a gift shop, of course. The CNN Center helped revitalize Atlanta’s downtown core, a tourist area that is once again falling victim to crime.

Related: This Is CNN: Ex-CIA Wonk Explains the Dangers of Free Speech

In 2021, CNN’s then-owner AT&T sold the property to a pair of Florida-based developers, and the network began moving more operations to its 40-acre campus in Midtown Atlanta. New corporate owners Warner Bros. Discovery are escalating the move out of the CNN Center and will be out of the building completely by the end of the year. The campus is the original location where Turner launched the network before moving some operations to the CNN Center.


Former CNN Center employees aren’t happy with the move.

“I am heartbroken,” Tom Johnson, CNN president from 1990 to 2001, told the AJC. “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.”

“It was like getting a phone call and finding out your parents were selling grandma’s house,” said Tenisha Tidwell, a former executive producer, to the newspaper.“No! You don’t sell grandma’s house! I had so many memories there, the laughter, the people.”

The move out of the CNN Center is largely a cost-cutting measure, of course, but it also marks the network’s continued entrenchment in the New York-D.C. corridor that Ted Turner sought to at least somewhat isolate his network from.


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