Not your average Joe: Meet the fashion-forward CNN news editor

One of the first things you realize when you meet Joe Sutton is that he’s anything but average. His dynamic personality can charm the hardest of hearts. His infectious smile can light up any room. Plus, he has a sense of style that rivals many in the fashion industry. But don’t let the killer wardrobe and 1,000-megawatt smile fool you. Joe is a seasoned journalist with a stellar career as a news editor at CNN.



Joe will tell you his path towards journalism started early on with trips to the local library – something he credits to his family.

“I spent most of my childhood being dropped off at libraries to comb through encyclopedias and travel the world through books,” he said.

That love for reading and learning is why – at just 16 years old following a stint as a volunteer meteorologist – Joe got his first gig at the big, red CNN letters with the now defunct S.T.A.R.S. (Students Taking A Right Step) program, a high school summer externship for aspiring journalists. That’s where his passion for journalism really took off.

"Turner is a very nurturing and welcoming place to work, and I just felt very comfortable being myself all the time.”

After a fellowship through the Emma Bowen Foundation, Joe started his full-time career with Turner. Today, at just 32 years old, he’s held a number of roles in various departments – from Turner entertainment divisions, HLN and CNN. What’s more – he also managed to squeeze in a position with a U.S. Congressman and worked at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Joe in the CNN control room, 2003.
Joe in the CNN control room, 2003.

However, it’s probably Joe’s current position as a news editor for CNN’s National Content Center that’s most impressive. The reason? Joe gathers news for the United States and Canada while many of us are sleeping. That means Joe is in charge of any news that happens overnight in all of the 50 states and Canada. Working with a team, he must find and research the stories, confirm editorial information, break it, deliver supporting image and video elements, and handle all news crews in the field for four different networks. Piece of cake, right?

“We investigate, seek understanding, seek answers, and report facts in an unbiased manner,” he said to describe his job.

Joe’s passion for journalism is rivaled only by his passion for fashion. Joe is known for wearing very eclectic styles. But he doesn’t do it for attention.

“It's an expressive way to show people your creativity. But again, it's never been about attention. I do it for me,” he joked.

Now, he’s also doing it for the rest of us through his own bow tie fashion line.

“Fashion and the way you look is a form of presentation. Just like we speak articulately, the way you dress is an articulate way of representing and letting people know who you are as a person,” said Joe.

Revealing his true identity is also something that took place while Joe was at Turner. He’s a very proud and out gay man, something he revealed to his colleagues before even letting his family know.

“I just saw other people were comfortable here. Being themselves. And if they were comfortable in the environment, then that would automatically make me comfortable with the environment,” he said. “Obviously, Turner is a very nurturing and welcoming place to work, and I just felt very comfortable being myself all the time.”



That comfortability led Joe to join one of Turner’s Business Resource Groups, TurnOut. In typical Joe fashion, he didn’t start small. He joined the group and is now one of the co-chairs spearheading Turner’s involvement in the Atlanta Pride Parade, the largest LGBTQ+ Pride parade in the southeastern U.S.

John Heath, CFO and SVP, - Finance, Domestic Entertainment, Animation, Sports & Distribution and Executive Sponsor of TurnOut had this to say about Joe. 

“Joe embodies exactly what we’re all about at TurnOut - ensuring all voices are heard and creating new ways of connecting to staff and our community.  His authenticity and energy are palpable – if you don’t know him, you should. We are so grateful for Joe’s contributions to TurnOut and the company.” 

This year, Joe helped coordinate a historic rainbow lighting at Turner’s headquarters in the heart of Atlanta, a first for the company and similar to the one the White House facilitated after the historic Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. Joe is encouraged by the advancement the gay community has made but realizes there is still work to be done.

So, what’s next for Joe? Well, he’s ready to do a little storm chasing in Tornado Alley.

Like we said – not your average Joe.

Turner Tidbits: More about Joe Sutton…

How long have you have been with Turner?
15 years

What’s the most interesting part of your job?
I have a front row seat to history.  Being able to talk to people, hear their stories and tell their stories to millions of people every day.  I think that's the most awesome part.

Because of what I do, Turner…
I don't want to be selfish. Everything that we do here is a group effort. We all are chipping in to give the presentation to a global audience on T.V. and online. It really does take a village.

What does innovation mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your role?
I would say working on overnights and juggling multiple news stories all at once, field teams, communicating with producers and my digital counterparts requires a lot of innovative methods to be efficient and to ensure every stone is safely placed to avoid errors. 

What is the most memorable moment you’ve had working at Turner?
I always remember that first day when I started working, coming up those escalators and just seeing the grandness of the building and walking in the newsroom. I never thought that I would be working in the newsroom in the capacity that I am today.

Which Turner colleague has been your greatest mentor or had the biggest influence on your career?
I won't say there's a single person, because there've been many people who've guided me throughout my years here. Executives, co-workers who really took me under their wing, news anchors and producers. 

What is your favorite Turner show and why? 
I enjoy watching Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. I'm not a huge basketball guy, but I like their personalities and I think they're a good fit. I think the company has a plethora of programming that's amazing to all of our audiences and segments.

Tell us about something interesting you do in your free time.
If it's not shopping, you'll find me eating at a restaurant. I’m a foodie. I love food. You can find me at an amazing restaurant with my Rosé and a fork in my hand.

What is the best thing about working at Turner?
The diversity. The people. We have a great culture.