CNN has built a reputation on its live coverage of ongoing events, but that coverage may start to look very different.
Chris Licht, the network’s chairman and CEO, has written a memo articulating his plans to roll back the use of phrase “Breaking News.”
Should seniors try pot for pain relief? [sponsored]
Licht worries about CNN’s viewers becoming desensitized to the “Breaking News” banner. He’s planned for the network to reserve the banner for certain stories, and he intends to introduce clearer guidelines on when to use it.
“Something I have heard from people both inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner. I agree,” Licht wrote.
“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience. Starting today, CNN has added a ‘Breaking News’ guideline to our stylebook. A special thank you to [Washington Bureau Chief and Senior Vice President] Sam Feist, who led the team that put the guideline together. 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.”
Variety put it better when it said, “Breaking news might be broken.”
CNN has faced accusations of sensationalism. Some Twitter users have compiled instances of CNN using the “Breaking News” banner for regularly scheduled events, including the 102nd anniversary of the Titanic disaster.
Take a look —
A lot of the things CNN has billed as "breaking news" are things that were entirely expected/scheduled or are not really breaking any news at all. https://t.co/Jb55lCYAj9 pic.twitter.com/PyBOuNyt0i
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) June 2, 2022
He's got a point on the breaking news banners pic.twitter.com/FZxL40jO9z
— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) June 2, 2022
Later in the memo, Licht elaborated on his plan for the rollback, and he voiced his commitment to living up to CNN’s slogan: “The Most Trusted Name in News.”
“We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,” Licht wrote.
“You’ve already seen far less of the ‘Breaking News’ banner across our programming. The tenor of our voice holistically has to reflect that. As I have said, 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.”
Did You Know This About Coffee? [Sponsored]
CNN has damaged its public image lately, independent of concerns about sensationalism.
It lost its longtime CEO Jeff Zucker amid a scandal over his failure to disclose a relationship with Allison Gollust, a subordinate of his.
The network also fired newscaster Chris Cuomo over his role as a P.R. agent for his brother, the scandal-prone former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It also saw one of Chris Cuomo’s producers indicted for unlawful sex with a minor.
The network later invested in a new project CNN+, only for it to crash and burn after hardly a month.
Amid all these scandals, the network saw its ratings fall of a cliff, according to Nielsen data published by Variety last year.
It’s no wonder that Licht wants CNN to be “vital, relevant, and respected.”
The contents of the memo were first reported by The New York Times, and the full memo was later published by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Horn editorial team