New CNN boss Chris Licht on Thursday told network staffers what many have been saying for years: Not everything is “breaking news.”
Marking his first full month as the network’s chief executive, Licht informed staffers in a company-wide memo that the channel will follow new guidelines for deciding whether a story is truly breaking.
“Something I have heard from people both inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner,” Licht wrote in the memo, which was first reported by The New York Times. “I agree. It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience.”
He also noted that CNN has added a new “Breaking News” guideline to its official stylebook. Licht further credited the network’s D.C. bureau chief Sam Feist with putting together the new rules. “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.
Elsewhere in the memo, Licht announced that in the wake of deadly mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, CNN will create “Guns in America,” a new unit dedicated to covering gun violence. “CNN is uniquely positioned to foster informed policy discussions in this space and help illuminate possible solutions to America’s epidemic of gun violence,” he wrote.
Since the unceremonious and abrupt exit of ex-CEO Jeff Zucker earlier this year, CNN has been rocked by some internal turmoil and sweeping organizational changes. Most notably, before Licht even officially started in May, the network’s new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery pulled the plug on the much-hyped CNN+ streaming service just weeks after its rocky launch.
A number of executives have either jumped ship or been let go in recent months. Licht addressed questions about the “leadership structure going forward” in his email, informing staffers that he’s “going to make decisions slower than some would like.” At the same time, he acknowledged that CNN has “been through tremendous change over the last four months,” insisting that is the reason he’s “approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully.”
Licht did announce one new leadership change, however, revealing that Marcus Mabry will serve as interim editor-in-chief of CNN Digital Worldwide following Meredith Artley’s exit from the gig last month. Axios reported last month that the digital exec “was frustrated in the wake of corporate shakeups.” Her resignation came on the heels of longtime CNN digital chief Andrew Morse’s departure with the nixing of CNN+, which he oversaw.
“I want to assure you all that maintaining our digital domination is a key priority,” Licht wrote.