The ax falls on 400 CNN staffers 

Scarlet letter comes in sticker form

A producer at CNN -- we'll call him Mr. X -- got the news Monday. "I was the only producer who was actually working when they called me in because all the others had been working on their resume tapes for the last week," he says.

Mr. X was among the 400 CNN employees being notified this week that their services are no longer required by the company that Ted built. In Mr. X's case, he was summoned to the 11th floor where he walked past an unusual number of security guards ("That was kind of weird," he says), sat down, faced a human resources employee and a staffer from the editorial side of CNN, and was told that his lay-off had nothing to do with his job performance.

"They just said we don't have enough jobs for everyone," he says. "It's like they were trying to be nice about it but you could tell they'd done it so much. It probably wasn't very pleasant for them either. It didn't seem very sincere."

He was then asked to turn in his security badge, which he did, and was given a sticker similar to those given to visitors. Out in the halls, workers discreetly studied each other, looking for the stickers, tell-tale signs of getting the axe.

"It's not really obvious because when we forget our badges we're given the stickers to wear, but there are more stickers now than usual," he says.

Mr. X is upbeat because he, like others let go, was told that he can come back to apply for jobs elsewhere in CNN after Friday, Jan. 26. If he gets re-hired, he says, he can still draw his severance pay -- nine weeks plus four weeks for every year of service -- in addition to income from his new job at CNN.

"Not many people are upset," he says. There are some exceptions though. An employee in the network's New York office learned he was laid off when he discovered he'd been locked out of the company's computer story file.

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