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New CNN Boss Says 'Breaking News' is Played-Out

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It almost sounds like the sort of opening line you’d expect from someone starring in a traveling anti-drug show that tours junior high schools around the country, as they try to hook the uninterested audience with something unexpected.

It’s the kind of thing that is meant to snap folks back out of blind ignorance, if for no other reason than to hear the ensuing justification.

In other words, it sounds rather contrived, and not really fit for anything outside of these school-aged assemblies or maybe lazy rehab centers.

Yet here we are watching the new chief over at CNN uttering a wild and strange new directive, as though he’s trying to impress his new subordinates.

New CNN chief Chris Licht has a message for his employees: not everything needs to be labeled “Breaking News.”

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In recent weeks, Licht, who officially started as CNN’s CEO on May 2, has held meetings with employees to solicit feedback about when and how the network uses its “Breaking News” banner, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the discussions were private.

Licht came to the conclusion there should be parameters around when to use the red chyron and asked Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief and senior vice president, to lead a team creating specific guidelines for its use.

Licht appeared to be suggesting that CNN would become more nuanced and subtle.

“This is a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking News’ mean something BIG is happening,” Licht wrote in the memo, which CNBC has obtained. “We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers. You’ve already seen far less of the ‘Breaking News’ banner across our programming. The tenor of our voice holistically has to reflect that.”

In an industry dominated by shock value and gore, and at a network that is fighting for every ratings point it can muster, Licht’s suggestion is a gamble that may or may not hook someone within earshot.

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About the Author:
As a lifelong advocate for the dream promised us in the Constitution, Andrew West has spent his years authoring lush prose editorial dirges regarding America's fall from grace and her path back to prosperity. When West isn't railing against the offensive whims of the mainstream media or the ideological cruelty that is so rampant in the US, he spends his time seeking adventurous new food and fermented beverages, with the occasional round of golf peppered in.