CNN Makes a Shift on 'Breaking News'

CNN chief Chris Licht tells network staff to cool it on using the ubiquitous banner
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2022 8:57 AM CDT
CNN Makes a Shift on 'Breaking News'
The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on Feb. 2.   (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

(Newser) – If you're a regular CNN viewer, you're also intimately familiar with one of its most well-known chyrons: the bright-red "Breaking News" banner that seems to accompany a good number of its newscasts. No more, says new network chief Chris Licht, who's now issued an edict on cutting down on the banner's use. Axios reports that on Thursday, Licht, 50, informed staff there are now stricter parameters on when to use the "Breaking News" label; updated guidelines have been written by Sam Feist, the network's DC bureau chief. "Breaking News" has to "mean something BIG is happening," Licht wrote in a memo to employees. "We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers. ... The tenor of our voice holistically has to reflect that."

The reasoning behind the shift, which CNBC calls "the first significant programming alteration" Licht has made, ties to his desire to pull CNN back from a more progressive-leaning, sometimes sensationalist approach to one more focused on hard news. That return to traditional journalism is also said to be a top priority for David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery. The move is also intended to keep the "Breaking News" banner from become diluted by overuse. "It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience," Licht noted in his memo.

Licht, who took the helm of CNN in early May, was said to have held meetings with staff to try to suss out when and how the banner is employed, at which point he directed Feist to come up with an update on its usage for CNN's stylebook. Licht noted he's open to feedback and "tweaks" to the guidelines, but that "this is a great starting point." He added in the memo: "We must be vital, relevant, and respected—and how we show up for our audiences, in every story, in every part of the country, and around the world, matters." Deadline has his memo in its entirety. (Read more CNN stories.)

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