After years of this failure unfolding in slow motion and full view, I guess I am just too cynical to play along with your request, Jeff: "come in and reinvent it." Nothing will happen. The reason is that CNN and its corporate owners, Time Warner, are fully satisfied with the money CNN makes as a worldwide news operation operating in all those hotels and airports and cable systems abroad. CNN International is the product, CNN in the US is just a spasm. For the actual product, the CNN of the hotel chain and airport lounge and foreign cable system, for that CNN to work it has to feel harmless, safe, neutral, like beige carpeting in the convention center.
So bland newsy mush is not a weakness, but a strategic proposition for CNN. They've made their peace with mediocrity and also-ran status in prime time in the US. The fact that CNN is neither Fox nor MSNBC lets everyone feel great about his or her own "serious news person" credentials, and if you under-estimate how powerful that feeling alone is, you cannot get a handle on why this situation persists. They know no one watches until there's a big breaking news event, and they know they surrender everything to it and go to wall-to-wall whether there's anything new to report or not. They don't care.
For there to be any movement at CNN, they would have to admit that the View from Nowhere, and "we're not the left or the right-leaning network," and "at CNN, the news is the star" have lost their power to inspire great work. But that cannot be admitted. For structural reasons--the biege carpet that offends no one--and ideological reasons. The people at CNN think they are better than everyone else in cable TV because they haven't gone left or right.
Jon Stewart nailed it years ago with his segment. "CNN leaves it there." http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there
Years later, CNN is still leaving it there. Tune in years from now and CNN will be leaving it there. The network is in stasis. It's a failure that makes money and makes for self-satisfied journalists. Speculating about how to improve it is idle.