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July 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Jim Walton

Jim Walton, who joined CNN a year and a half after it was founded and saw it rise to indomitable heights, only to witness its awkward descent over the course of the last decade, is stepping down as worldwide president, the cable news network announced on Friday. Walton, who started as a 25-year-old assistant at the CNN sports desk in 1982, said that he is leaving in order to make way for someone with a fresher outlook. “CNN needs new thinking,” he said in a note to staff. “That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.” As for himself, he noted, “I have interests to explore, and I want to give myself time to do it.” However, he remarked, he plans to remain at the helm until the end of the year and stay on after that if need be. The name of former NBC chief Jeff Zucker immediately arose in water-cooler chatter about a replacement — although the onetime wunderkind is only seven years younger than Walton. He is also currently engaged in producing Katie Couric’s soon-to-launch afternoon talk show.