David Rust in 2016.
Photo: CNN
Photo: CNN

David Rust, CNN photojournalist going back to 1980 Ted Turner launch, is taking buyout

He has enough CNN memorabilia to fill a museum

Originally posted Monday, May 6, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

David Rust, a heralded Atlanta-based photo-journalist and one of just a handful of original CNN employees left from Ted Turner’s 1980 launch, is taking the AT&T/WarnerMedia buyout offer after nearly 40 years of service.

“It was a very tough decision,” Rust said. “But, for a number of reasons, I decided it was a good time to take it.”

According to Deadline.com, about 100 of the estimated 3,000 CNN employees took the buyout. Employees needed to be at least 55 and had 10 years or more experience to qualify. They could receive four weeks of pay for every year they worked there up to 104 weeks, which is quite generous. There is no word of layoffs just yet. 

It’s unclear how many of those estimated 100 employees are based in Atlanta. 

Rust, 70, is known for saving copious amounts of CNN-related memorabilia at his Atlanta home and two storage units. He had just finished putting together an historical display at the new Hudson Yards CNN headquarters in Manhattan.

“They liked it so much,” he added, “that they now want to put together a similar display in Atlanta.”

He plans to continue after retirement to work on the collection and help with public displays: “I’m really happy the memorabilia will be seen by the public.”

According to a Columbia Journalism Review profile of Rust last year, he owns CNN’s first microwave truck, the cable that allowed CNN to stay on air during the start of the Gulf War in 1991, a camera used during the trial of Saddam Hussein and a script from the 9/11 broadcast, to name a few. 

His final day at work will be June 30.

Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director at Atlanta-based CNN International, also announced he is taking the buyout. He joined CNN 21 years ago. 

CNN launched in Atlanta June 1, 1980. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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