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CNN CEO Chris Licht has set his executive team, firming up the direct reports who will help run the cable news channel’s global operations.
Licht’s appointments are mostly longtime CNN staffers, reflecting a desire to shift CNN’s focus toward hard news, rather than a desire to make dramatic change.
“With this strong team now in place, the real work begins,” Licht wrote in a memo to staff Wednesday afternoon. “I have no doubt that these leaders will individually and collectively tackle the challenges that lie ahead and create new opportunities for CNN in the ever-evolving media landscape. These key executives will now be developing plans for their leadership teams, and we will share those decisions in the coming months. I am tremendously bullish about the future of CNN and this team — and I’m eager to move forward and roll up our sleeves, together.”
Among the executive promotions, one in particular stands out: Virginia Moseley, who will become executive vp editorial, overseeing CNN’s TV and digital newsgathering. Moseley, who previously oversaw TV newsgathering, will now add oversight of the U.S. digital editorial news team run by Rachel Smolkin. Moseley, whose husband, Tom Nides, is currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Israel, will relocate to New York.
Licht also formally announced the addition of two outsiders to his executive team: Washington Post veteran Kristine Coratti Kelly, who earlier on Wednesday was tapped to lead global communications for CNN, and Chris Marlin, a friend of Licht’s who is tasked with leading strategy and business operations, and will be “charged with finding new revenue and optimization opportunities across the business.”
But most of Licht’s team is made up of CNN veterans, including, notably, the three executives who led CNN while Warner Bros. Discovery was searching for former CNN president Jeff Zucker’s successor.
Michael Bass will remain executive vp programming, and will lead CNN’s daily editorial call; Amy Entelis, will continue to lead talent and content development as executive vp; and Ken Jautz will continue serving as executive vp news, including oversight of operations and production, as well as HLN.
Licht also said that Johnita Due will become executive vp integrity and inclusion, overseeing diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as standards and practices. The channel is also looking for a new chief digital officer, with Licht telling staff that there is a “nationwide search underway.”
Licht was named CNN CEO in February, and officially took over the job after the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger took effect in May.
You can read Licht’s full memo below.
I’d like to share some exciting news with you all about our new management structure and the people I’ve asked to help lead this great organization.
First, thank you for your patience as I’ve made the rounds getting to know many of you. I’ve now met more than 1,000 CNN’ers from around the world and have been consistently impressed by the passion and tenacity that you bring to work every day. Taking time to see that firsthand and better understand this huge company has been critical to my decision-making when thinking about a leadership team that can best serve the needs of the business, our audiences, and all of you. In these meetings, I learned more about the commitment of our employees around the world, and the exceptional work that continues to make our brand the envy of the industry. With all of that said, I’m pleased to share the executive leadership team of CNN Worldwide.
Michael Bass will continue to serve as EVP of Programming for CNN US. Michael’s steady hand has led CNN through many pivotal stories and moments — he is loyal to the brand and its mission, and is an exceptional leader and fantastic journalist. He will continue to lead the 9 a.m. editorial call and will oversee programming for the CNN US networks.
Virginia Moseley will now serve as EVP of Editorial for CNN US, now including the Digital news team managed by Rachel Smolkin. We are fortunate to continue to have Virginia’s extensive knowledge of newsgathering in an expanded role that will further unify our resources and coverage across platforms. Virginia will now be based in New York City.
Amy Entelis will continue to serve as EVP of Talent and Content Development. Under Amy’s leadership, CNN Original Series and CNN Films have flourished — becoming a hallmark of our portfolio and bringing us new audiences, making them a critical element of our brand. Her vision for the future of this part of our business is incredibly valuable to all of us. I look forward to continuing to harness her talent expertise as we plot our next chapter.
Ken Jautz will continue to serve as EVP of News. Ken has more than a third of our employees worldwide under his purview in Operations and Production. His leadership has been crucial to our organization for decades, with a tenure spanning the last 34 years — and that experience will be even more pivotal in meeting the new operational challenges with our integration with WBD. Ken will also continue to be the executive leader of HLN.
Johnita Due will now serve as EVP of Integrity and Inclusion. This is a newly created position that taps into Johnita’s extensive experience as news content attorney to CNN and her decades-long leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In this role, she will ensure that our voice on linear, digital, and in sales, maintains the integrity of our pristine brand. Johnita has led many unique inclusion initiatives, and I have asked her to continue to nurture diverse talent and help them thrive within our ranks. The Standards & Practices and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion teams will both report to her. Her DEI leadership role will continue to span across news and sports.
As a result of this new structure, Calvin Sims will be leaving the organization, and Calvin’s team will now report to Johnita. CNN weathered many storms during Calvin’s tenure, each of which he expertly guided us through. I want to thank Calvin for his talent and leadership. Please join me in wishing him the best in his next endeavor
Chris Marlin will serve as Group EVP of Strategy and Business Operations. As you have heard me say, Chris is charged with finding new revenue and optimization opportunities across the business, as well as aligning our resources, globally. In this role, he will develop the strategic, operational, and business frameworks that expand our business opportunities and keep us on track to drive results and performance. He will also collaborate closely with WBD on projects with broader reach.
Robin Garfield will remain Chief Research Officer and EVP of Program and Content Strategy, leading the research and scheduling teams. She will report to Chris Marlin. Research is essential to our business, and this realignment will serve to sharpen our broader business goals in a meaningful way.
Kris Coratti Kelly is joining CNN as EVP and Chief Communications Officer. Coming to us from The Washington Post, Kristine has had an impressive career and background in journalism. She actually got her start right here at CNN. In this role, Kristine will lead our global communications and brand strategy and oversee our CNN Worldwide PR and communications teams, as well as global marketing. Rick Lewchuk, SVP of Creative Marketing, will report to her. Rick will continue to be a driving force in our global marketing efforts, and I want to thank him for maintaining our presence during this transition. Please join me in welcoming Kristine back to CNN. She will start on August 15 and be based in New York City.
With Kristine’s announcement, I want to extend my thanks to James Anderson, who has served as interim head of communications. As David Leavy shared back in May, James has decided to leave the company after an impressive 17-year tenure. We could not have asked for a better steward during the last several months of transition, and I sincerely appreciate James’ flexibility and guidance along the way.
Ramon Escobar will serve as SVP of Talent Recruitment & Development in an expanded role that will include overseeing our contributors. Ramon is exceptional at what he does; it is imperative to me that we have his voice at the table. Ramon will continue working closely with Amy Entelis in his expanded role and will now report to me.
Mike McCarthy will continue to serve as EVP and GM of CNNI. You’ve heard me say we need CNNI now more than ever – and Mike’s decades of experience and stalwart leadership will continue to be impactful to our newsgathering teams around the world.
Rani Raad will continue to serve as President of CNN Commercial Worldwide. Rani has been able to find revenue even in challenging times, which is no easy feat; I’m grateful to have him on the team.
Lisa Reeves will continue to serve as SVP of Talent Negotiations and Labor Relations. There is no one better in the business than Lisa. We are lucky to have her.
Sam Feist will continue to serve as SVP & Washington Bureau Chief, reporting to me. His unique role managing key relationships in Washington and overseeing the bureau’s operation is essential to this network during these times. Few have a heart for those three red letters like Sam does.
Filling the position of Chief Digital Officer is of paramount importance to me, and we have a nationwide search underway to find a permanent leader. Until we do, Wendy Brundige will remain interim Chief Digital Officer. I really appreciate Wendy and her leadership through this transition.
We also have leaders critical to our mission that are shared across news and sports, including Ellen Russ, who will continue to serve as SVP of People and Culture (HR); Neil Chugani, who will serve as CFO of News & Sports, and David Vigilante, who will continue to serve as EVP and General Counsel for News & Sports. These leaders influence key parts of our business every day, and I am glad to continue to have their partnership.
I’m truly excited to dig in with these leaders and plan out our short and long-term goals. I’m sure that you have questions about these changes and what they mean — you will have an opportunity to ask whatever is on your mind in our next town hall on August 11. More details on that will be coming soon.
With this strong team now in place, the real work begins. I have no doubt that these leaders will individually and collectively tackle the challenges that lie ahead and create new opportunities for CNN in the ever-evolving media landscape. These key executives will now be developing plans for their leadership teams, and we will share those decisions in the coming months. I am tremendously bullish about the future of CNN and this team — and I’m eager to move forward and roll up our sleeves, together.
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