NEW YORK – Paula Zahn is leaving CNN, turning her prime-time slot over to Campbell Brown. Zahn's final program will be Aug. 2. Others will fill in until November, when Brown — newly hired from NBC News — will start, CNN said Tuesday.
Zahn has been at the network for nearly six years since jumping from Fox News Channel — her first day on the job Sept. 11, 2001. She said she expects to stay in television after taking some time off.
"For the first time in 30 years, I'm going to take a break here," said Zahn, 51.
Although her ratings are up this year, Zahn has had a tough time competing in a time slot dominated by Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC. Rumors have spread for months that CNN was looking to make a change.
"As all of the stories were being written, (CNN U.S. President) Jon Klein and I were talking very amicably about where we both wanted to go," she told The Associated Press. "You're not going to survive very long in this business if you internalize every rumor that is out there. To a certain extent, my staff and I were able to drown out the noise and do what we were expected to do."
She and veteran executive producer Victor Neufeld had found a niche in recent months reporting extensively on issues of race relations, and Zahn said she was proud of that work. CNN had several times changed the focus of Zahn's show looking for something to catch on, including a focus on politics and emphasis on longer-form stories.
"We are grateful for her dedication, professionalism and class over the last six years," Klein said.