CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht is a month into the job and already instituting changes on the editorial and leadership fronts.
In a memo to staff obtained by The New York Times, Licht says that the network has been overusing the “Breaking News” banner (something that has defined the network for years).
Licht says there has been a guideline developed, in tandem with DC bureau chief Sam Feist, that outlines how and when “Breaking News” should appear on screen. Licht writes, “we are truth-tellers focused on informing, not alarming our viewers.”
The new CNN boss also announced a new beat focused on gun violence in America in the wake of recent events in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa and elsewhere.
This announcement comes days after former CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin suggested in a column for The Atlantic that networks “not look away from school shootings” and even create a beat focused exclusively on gun violence in America.
Television networks regularly assign correspondents to beats—specific topics such as the White House, crime and justice, or the State Department—where journalists can take time to specialize, dig deep, and doggedly chase tips. How about adding mass shootings as a regular beat? Reporters should pound on the doors of senators who continue to vote no on gun-control legislation, who are prepared to sacrifice lives on the altar of the NRA and the good ol’ boys.
Whether Licht’s decision to launch the beat was influenced by Baldwin or if this was something already in the works, we’re not sure.
On the leadership front, Licht shared that Marcus Mabry is replacing Meredith Artley on an interim basis. Artley left her post as CNN svp of digital and editor in chief in May. Something tells us that won’t be the only personnel change Licht will institute in the coming weeks and months, although he did say in his memo that the process will move “slowly and thoughtfully.”
I have gotten many questions about leadership structure going forward. You heard me say in my first town hall that I am going to make decisions slower than some would like. 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. We will realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the business.
The new CNN boss also announced a Global Town Hall in Atlanta on Thursday, June 16, two weeks from today.