Soon-to-be CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker and his new boss, Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent, held a conference call with reporters this morning to talk about Zucker’s hire. There were plenty of talking points, but reading between the lines, it was clear that Zucker had a vision–at least a general one–of what he thought CNN has to do to remain relevant in a competitive, multi-platform news environment.
“I think our competition today is anybody that competes for eyeballs and attention and produces non-fiction programming,” Zucker said. “News is about more than politics and war, we need to broaden that definition of what news is, while maintaining the standards of CNN’s journalistic excellence.”
“We have had shows about sports, fashion and technology, and some of that is going to be revisited,” Kent said. “It is all news that people need and are interested about. There is a lot of subject matter that we probably don’t give enough attention to.”
CNN is beginning to expand to other forms of non-fiction programming on the weekends with new shows next year hosted by Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock. Zucker said that “it wouldn’t be fair” to any current hosts or shows to discuss what he had planned for them.
That said, it seemed clear that two areas Zucker wanted to focus on are CNN’s primetime lineup and its morning program, where he has real-world experience having taken NBC’s “Today” show to #1 in the ’90s, where it stayed for 16 years.