CNN Boss Advises Staff to Pull Back on ‘Breaking News’ Banner

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CNN’s new chairman and CEO Chris Licht is planning an overhaul of some of the news channel’s editorial practices, beginning with dialing back of the frequency the breaking news banner is used.

In a memo to staffers Thursday, Licht, who has now been in the job for 30 days, wrote that he feels the “breaking news” graphic used during the network’s live broadcasts has become such a frequent occurrence that it has lost its impact. As a result, he wants CNN to be more judicious in its usage moving forward.

“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience. … It certainly will need tweaks, so we are open to feedback, but this is a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking News’ mean something BIG is happening,” Licht wrote in the memo, obtained by TheWrap. “We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers. You’ve already seen far less of the ‘Breaking News’ banner across our programming. The tenor of our voice holistically has to reflect that.”

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Licht also opened up about new initiatives he wants to launch, including a beat focused on “guns in America.”

“In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, the role of guns – who buys & sells them, who makes them, and who regulates them are central to understanding all sides of this complex and divisive issue,” he wrote. “CNN is uniquely positioned to foster informed policy discussions in this space and help illuminate possible solutions to America’s epidemic of gun violence.”

These are not the first proposed changes Licht has discussed since taking over. In May, he revealed plans to overhaul CNN’s morning show coverage as well.

“We will reimagine our morning show leveraging our correspondents and unmatched resources in the U.S. and around the world to provide news that viewers need to know as they start their day,” Licht said last month. “[To] be honest there, we are seeking to be a disrupter of the broadcast morning shows in this space, and we believe we have the people and resources who can do it.”

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While Licht endeavors to make immediate changes to CNN’s editorial coverage, he is not planning to be as immediately aggressive with CNN’s executive hierarchy. Instead, he reaffirmed his commitment to “slowly and thoughtfully” examining the business.

“I know this organization has been through tremendous change over the last four months, which is why I am approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we look at all parts of the operation,” he wrote in Thursday’s memo. “We will realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the business.”

Overall, Licht’s ambitions are for CNN to be “vital, relevant, and respected” in the media space.

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