Briefing Notes: Richard Greene from CNN

Katie Tiffin
Katie Tiffin 26th October 2021

Key contacts

Guest booking

Freedom Project lead


Senior news editor

International climate editor



Richard Greene, Head of Content, CNN London



CNN International is a division of CNN. It has a similar relationship as BBC News with BBC World News. CNNI broadcasts globally outside the US to several hundred million homes although there are no precise viewing figures. Some of its shows are broadcast by the US network and vice versa and content is shared between the two, but CNNI is principally aimed at a global audience so each story is judged on its merits. The US network has much more of a US focus. CNNI recently led for example on the kidnapping of US missionaries in Haiti and on the murder of the British MP David Amess.

CNNI is known as a breaking news channel and this is what it does best. When there’s a breaking story it throws lots of resources at it. Part of Richard’s role is to encourage his colleagues to place these stories in a wider context, which is what audiences are looking for. The nature of breaking news is changing. But if there is a big story and you have a guest who can contribute get straight on to the guest bookers, who are part of the planning team. Guests are judged on their merits. Players are of more interest than commentators.

CNNI comes from London several times a day and in normal times they would want guests in the studio but currently they have no studio guests so anyone can contribute regardless of where they are.

Television is no longer the most important outlet. In the US live TV dominates but outside of the US, CNN’s online presence is equally important and they have a digital team in London. London is the largest CNN bureau outside the US and the hub for stories from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It employs around 30 people – producers, reporters, presenters, sports desk, photo desk, business team, climate team.

Pitches can go to Richard or one of the specialist teams.


What are they looking for?

Any story you pitch needs to have a topical angle or peg so that it feels like a story that is relevant now. This doesn’t mean that they don’t do features, but it does mean that any off-agenda story should have a strong peg.


Top issues

Each year CNN decides on the top issues that it wants to focus on in order to differentiate itself from the competition – this year there are prioritising the climate crisis, China, inequality, the new post-Covid world and global politics/identity.

Climate crisis – they will go big on COP and they will be devoting a lot of resources to it. The international climate editor, Angela Dewan, is based in London. Angela has said that she welcomes pitches from us, although she may be slow to answer. They are keen as part of their coverage of climate change to look at solutions so that the coverage is not all negative and bleak. At COP, they will seek to hold world leaders to account. Climate change pitches need to have a different angle or something new to say.

Inequality is another key topic for them – and they interpret this widely. For example whether billionaires should spend their money go into space or give to more deserving causes, can be seen as an inequality issue.

Whilst CNN is not a campaigning organisation it does sometimes do issue-related campaigns. One such campaign is the freedom project which looks at human trafficking. The campaign is ongoing.


MG, 21.10.21

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