Executive producer Chris Licht of the television show Our Cartoon President speaks onstage during the CBS/Showtime portion of the Television Critics Association Winter 2018 Press Tour at the Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 6 2018 in Pasadena, CA.
Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images
New CNN chief Chris Licht has a message for his employees: Not everything needs to be labeled “Breaking News.”
Over the past few weeks, Licht, who officially took over as CEO of CNN on May 2, has been holding meetings with employees to solicit feedback on when and how the network uses its “Breaking News” banner. according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the discussions were private.
Licht came to the conclusion that there should be parameters regarding when to use the red chyron, and asked television producer Sam Feist to lead a team creating specific guidelines for its use.
“It’s a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking News’ mean something BIG is happening,” Licht wrote in the memo, which CNBC obtained. “We are truth tellers, focused on informing and not alarming our viewers. You’ve already seen the ‘Breaking News’ banner far less in our programming. The tenor of our voice should holistically reflect this. .”
Licht’s decision – the first significant programming change he has made – is indicative of a broader strategy backed by the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, and board member John Malone, both of whom have publicly stated that CNN should emphasize journalism rather than sensationalism.
“I would love to see CNN go back to the kind of journalism it started with,” Malone told CNBC in November.
Zaslav said in April that CNN’s measured take on the news is essential for “a civilized society” and crucial to avoiding the image of an “advocacy” network.
Licht also told employees that he plans to create a new organizational structure at CNN but will “take decisions more slowly than some would like” given the changes the company has already undergone over the past four months. month.
Former CNN executive Jeff Zucker left abruptly in February after revealing a relationship with chief marketing officer Allison Gollust, who also left the company. WarnerMedia then merged with Discovery in April, prompting the rapid elimination of the CNN+ streaming service and its leader, Andrew Morse.
CNN’s chief digital editor, Meredith Artley, announced her departure last month. She will be replaced by Marcus Mabry, who served as CNN Digital’s senior vice president of content strategy and global programming, on an interim basis, Licht wrote in the memo.
“I know this organization has gone through huge changes,” Licht said. “I am approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we review all parts of the operation. We will realign where it makes sense to better serve our people and the business.”
Licht also announced a new beat, “Guns in America”, which CNN will release in the near future.
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