Ken Jautz: CNN Will ‘Talk about different subject matters and approach it differently’

By Alex Weprin 

CNN/U.S. executive VP Ken Jautz speaks to the AP’s David Bauder about his strategy for improving the cable news channel.

The short version: de-emphasizing politics (at least in 2011), more variety in the stories covered, and a tone that flows from show to show.

“It’s important to stand out by being different,” said Jautz, a longtime CNN executive who replaced Jon Klein last fall at the helm of the domestic network. “If much of the cable space is politically oriented and partisan politically oriented, the way to be different is … to talk about different subject matters and approach it differently.”

CNN’s hope is to create a contrast and make it appear that rivals Fox and MSNBC are one-dimensional with a focus on political arguments.

In other words: let the other guys debate politics, let us counter-program with something different.

Elsewhere, The NY TimesBill Carter gets MSNBC president Phil Griffin to acknowledge that when breaking news happens, people want to watch CNN:

“This is where CNN excels,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. “This is in their bull’s-eye, and they’ve done a great job. Even Fox News, which dominates them, gets beat by CNN at times like this.”

Griffin also defended the network’s programming of long-form documentaries like “Lockup” on the weekends.

He called MSNBC’s weekend reliance on “Lockup,” its recorded documentary-style program about prisons, a “tricky situation.” He said, “This is our strategy for weekends, and it has worked well for us.” Its audience now “has an expectation” of seeing such programs on Saturday and Sunday nights, he said.