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New CNN president teases changes to network strategy

CNN CEO Chris Licht attends The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Most Powerful People in Media issue celebration at The Pool on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

New CNN President Chris Licht announced a number of changes to the network’s editorial strategy in the coming months, signaling his first initiatives since taking over as head of the cable news giant last month.

“Over the past four weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of you in person and virtually. I look forward to more in the coming days and weeks as I travel to Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, and back to Washington this month,” Licht wrote in a memo sent to employees on Thursday.

“Our conversations have provided invaluable insight into the company and the issues on your minds. Thank you for your honesty and transparency — it’s crucial to our success.”

Licht said the network would pull back on usage its often-displayed “breaking news” banner that had become a staple of the network’s graphics and chyrons in recent years.

“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience,” Licht wrote, adding the network had updated its internal guidebook for what constitutes breaking news.

“It certainly will need tweaks, so we are open to feedback, but this is a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking New’ mean something BIG is happening,” he said.

CNN has also created a new beat focusing on “Guns in America,” Licht announced, though the network’s top boss did not provide details on who at the network would fill the role or when coverage would begin.

“CNN is uniquely positioned to foster informed policy discussions in this space and help illuminate possible solutions to America’s epidemic of gun violence,” he wrote.

Licht also announced a new interim head of digital for CNN.com and set a company town hall for June 16. He said during his initial discussions with employees across the network that filling open positions had been a central theme of concern.

“Please know my leadership team is very focused on identifying critical roles and working to put the right people in them. This process is days from being complete and managers will be able to act soon after,” he said.

Licht joined CNN in May, replacing former President Jeff Zucker, who was ousted following a personal and professional conduct scandal stemming from the firing of Chris Cuomo, the network’s top prime-time host.

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