CNN enters the post-Jeff Zucker era.  Goodbye "Breaking News" banners.

CNN enters the post-Jeff Zucker era. Goodbye “Breaking News” banners.

The ubiquitous “Breaking News” banner on CNN has vanished, and is now dedicated to cases of really urgent events. Snarky on screen -”Angry Trump turns his briefing into a propaganda session“For example – they don’t encourage. Political shows are trying to attract more conservative voices, and producers have been urged to ignore the backlash on Twitter from the far right and the far left.

A month into his tenure as CNN’s new leader, Chris Licht is beginning to make his mark on the 24-hour news network that he inherited in May from its prominent former boss, Jeff Zucker. So far, Licht’s credo is a change from the Zucker days: less noise, more nuance, and a redoubled effort to reach viewers of all stripes.

Running a network is a new challenge for Mr. Licht, a 50-year-old producer who has never led an organization as large as CNN. (His latest employer, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” had about 200 people; CNN has nearly 4,000.) Some CNN journalists say they wonder if he can navigate a sprawling and impractical global news network yet It was not a good year, too bad.

In December, broadcaster Chris Cuomo was fired for moral missteps, prompting an investigation that eventually led to Zucker’s impeachment in February over an undisclosed relationship with a co-worker. Then, in April, the network’s new owners, Warner Bros. Discovery, closed the broadcast platform CNN+ weeks after its $300 million debut. On the same day, Mr. Licht announced the possibility of hundreds of layoffs in his first official speech to employees.

Under Mr. Zucker, the detail manager who dictated headlines and whispered in reporters’ ears during interviews, the network developed a “one audience” culture. “What Jeff Wants” was the mantra, which often means scenery and drama. Mr. Licht now shreds this rulebook with a management style markedly different from its predecessors.

“I’m not here to delve into everyday editorial decisions,” Mr. Licht told staff on his first day. His more hands-off approach to coverage, and his sweeping statements that CNN would “challenge the traditional philosophy of cable news,” made skeptics want more specific guidance from the top, not less.

Mr. Licht’s early movements, and moods within the network, were described by several people with knowledge of CNN’s internal dynamics who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Licht is aware of the criticism. “I will make decisions slower than some may wish,” he wrote in a newsroom-wide note on Thursday. “I know this organization has gone through a massive change over the past four months, which is why I’m approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we look at all parts of the process.” (CNN declined to comment.)

An early focus was morning programming, an arena that Mr. Licht knows well from supervising “Morning Joe” and his successful retooling of “CBS This Morning”.

Mr. Licht told advertisers he wanted to “disable” morning television. Internally, three people said he wanted a more engaging and conversational style, and believed that CNN’s flagship show, “The New Day” – created by Mr. Zucker – lacked a clear identity.

People said that in the coming weeks he wants to create a list of “show friends” who will appear regularly on the show. Among those being considered is Audi Cornish, a former NPR host who was scheduled to host a show on CNN+.

Licht also wants to revamp his Sunday night roster, introducing a new talk show from former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, as well as a new show for a long-running news magazine.

Mr. Licht is bent on bringing partisanship back on air, telling advertisers last month, “At a time when extremisms dominate satellite news, we will seek to go a different route.” In a recent meeting in Washington with producers and journalists, Mr. Licht said he wanted to attract more Republicans and conservatives into political presentations to present a wide range of viewpoints. Internally, he praised Dana Bach’s recent interview on gun control with Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican.

In some ways, Mr. Licht is undoing the showrunner-like tendencies that former “Today” producer Mr. Zucker embodied in CNN’s DNA during his nine-year tenure.

Mr. Zucker put sports broadcaster-style microphones on critics and encouraged political broadcasters like Jim Acosta to embrace hostile reporting about Donald J. Trump, resulting in coverage that might sound like a partisan. Large groups of party guests called manners each night.

“It was just too loud,” said Peter Hamby, a former CNN reporter and columnist for Puck, who writes about the changes in television news. “They found a new rage every day. It made it difficult for fans to separate what was truly an emergency and what was a hoax in the ratings.”

Zucker’s approach had benefits. CNN has enjoyed its most lucrative and highest-rated year of his tenure, although viewership has fallen sharply after Mr. Trump left office. Many broadcasters felt fierce loyalty to Zucker, who defended his team amid attacks by Trump, death threats and even pipe bombs mailed to CNN’s offices. After Mr. Zucker exited, anchor Don Lemon bid farewell to the air in tears, saying, “We’ve lost a man who was the backbone, glue, and soul of this company.”

Some producers and journalists on CNN used to wait for Mr. Zucker’s specific instructions. Mr. Licht is less inclined to micromanagement, an approach in keeping with his productive philosophy in previous posts. Mr. Licht told his aides that he preferred enabling MPs to make decisions for themselves, even if sometimes mistakes were made.

On-air press is just one aspect of Mr. Licht’s new role. He must also make sure that the network is making money. With ratings dropping across cable, Mr. Licht told colleagues that boosting CNN’s reputation as a fair news group would help attract excellent advertisers.

With little experience on the corporate side of running a network, Mr. Licht brought in outside help: Chris Marlin, a friend of decades and CEO who had recently worked at Lennar, the giant Florida home builder. Mr. Licht met Mr. Marlin, who had grown up in a trailer park in Arkansas, when he was 17 years old at the Washington High School Student Conference.

Mr. Marilyn, who combs the net in search of new sources of income, It has proven to be a subject of curiosity and unease at CNN. Some employees took to calling him “Fishman,” the name of his marine nickname. So far, his ideas include expanding CNN Underscored, a consumer-focused shopping guide, and expanding the CNN brand into overseas markets such as China.

For CNN’s daily viewers, the clearest sign that the network is under new leadership may be what is no longer installed on their television screens.

According to a new entry in the CNN Standards Handbook, obtained by The New York Times, a story should be “Stop What You’re Doing and Watch News” to secure the “Breaking News” tag. Until then, the guide says, the label should only appear on screen for one hour, unless there’s a live story unfolding like a school shooting, a major hurricane, or the death of a world leader.

“Its impact on the audience has been lost,” Licht wrote in his note, adding that CNN should “focus on informing our viewers, not panicking them.”

Benjamin Mullen Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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