CNN Shift: Scot Safon, From Marketing the News to Producing It

By Chris Ariens 

Scot Safon brought drama to TNT and Politics to CNN. His branding campaigns, including TNT’s We know Drama and  the newschannel’s CNN=Politics are felt on the air and in the air at Turner.

But can this marketing guru program a news network?

I suppose that depends on whether you see HLN as a news network.


Safon, named today as the head of HLN, has been CNN’s marketing chief since 2002. He’ll work out of Atlanta where HLN has been based since it went on the air January 1, 1982.

Under Ken Jautz‘s leadership, HLN transitioned from a network which provided a repetitive half-hour wheel of news, into personality-driven programs.

That programming begins first thing in the morning with a show built around a single star anchor — “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” and it continues into primetime where Jautz recruited the likes of Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace and, more recently, Joy Behar.

The news and views branding, courtesy of Safon, now carries over into the daytime. Anchor Mike Galanos, who lead the news/opinion program Prime News, now anchors a four-hour afternoon block on the network. “We’re adding smart, passionate personalities across our air,” HLN SVP Bill Galvin told TVNewser in August about the programming shift.

As for Safon, his boss knows it’s not a natural transition from marketing the news to producing it.

“Scot is a strategic thinker and he is also someone who works well with other people, says CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton. “What Scot will do is what a lot of other leaders do, he will surround himself with people who are smarter than him at some things, more passionate about some things that maybe he is less passionate about, and that team will get to work.”