Take Five: Jon Klein
By Anne Becker -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/5/2007 6:00:00 AM
Why has the competition between cable news networks heated up so much?
We're all getting excited about the political season. The presidential campaign season is starting earlier than expected, and I think it gets everybody's mojo going. And that's a good thing for viewers. It's a good way to motivate the staffs. It's a little fun in the middle of the day. I don't think it's any kind of serious marketing strategy. Everybody's just jazzed.
Do you think negative ads impact viewers' opinions or viewing habits?
The programming you do on the air is what impacts viewers' opinions and viewing habits. For all of us, the image we have with viewers is pretty well locked in and not that easy to change. The way you cover the news or choose not to cover the news is what will influence the audience.
What was the idea behind your ads reacting to Fox News?
Honestly, I think we react with bemusement. The journalism speaks for itself. Any news network or so-called news network's work defines it, and that will do most of the talking for us.
Naturally, if somebody throws a punch, you want to throw a counter-punch, but it will probably all simmer down after that.
We're all busy doing what we need to do, so I don't think any of the executives really has too much time for this.
Given cable news ratings, do you think you're in a three-way race?
I don't think any of us really feels we're in a prize fight here. We're in the very difficult business of covering the world, a world that's become more complex and difficult for viewers to grasp, and that's what consumes us. Not spitball fights.
Where on your schedule are you in need of growth, and are you worried about MSNBC beating you in the morning?
We had growth in all of our key dayparts in January. The trends over the past two years have been phenomenal for us. We're moving full-steam ahead and definitely heading in the right direction.
We really obsess over our coverage and how we swarm all over the news every day. That's what really preoccupies us.
We've got the most news in the morning, and that's a great path for us to follow. That's what viewers expect out of CNN, and it's what we're delivering.
You've drawn criticism from people saying you're over-promoting Anderson Cooper—what do you say to that?
All you have to do is watch Anderson night in and night out to know that he's the preeminent journalist of his generation. It's no wonder people try to attack him. He offers depth. He does real news, and he goes to where story is.
But what about people saying CNN has promoted him at the expense of others?
They should run their business, and we should run ours. Anderson has earned the renown that he's gotten by virtue of the absolute kick-ass reporting that he does.
He goes to dangerous places, puts himself at great risk, asks tough questions, demands honest answers. That's why the audience embraces him and he wins awards. The people who know the news know that Anderson Cooper deserves the acclaim.
Is there room for growth in cable news, or are you grabbing share from each other?
In a country of 300 million, we ought to attract more than a few million news viewers every night.
The mission for us, whether on-air or online, is to provide massive amounts of information and understanding about as many of the things the audience cares about as possible.
PS: I meant I agreed with Donna (not Barbara). Really, it's not that there's anything wrong with A. Cooper's show, it's just that Brown a seemed to get everything I needed to know plus a feature or 2 that I wouldn't have known all inside 1 hour. Also agree with you Donna on Keith Olbermann...as long as he doesn't start taking himself too seriously.
Daniel O'Connell - 2/9/2007 6:27:00 AM EST
I stumbled onto this site while seeking out, once again, whatever happened to Aaron Brown after spending another 2 news cycles searching the veritable wasteland he left behind him for a few scraps of real insight into what's happening to our poor country. I agree completely with Barbara's characterization of his Newsnight....it was the only time in my life I actually cared enough to want to tune in to a particular news show (except for Lehrer) because that hour was so complete and insightful (and devoid of hype and fear mongering). Even though I like Anderson Cooper a lot, CNN has really declined in quality with all the maudlin and sensational stuff: I don't want to invite all the criminals and pop culture wannabees into my life that Larry King hangs out with...and I can't reach for the remote quick enough when Nancy Grace comes on! I read that AC's ratings have never reached Aaron's previous mark. I wish him well, but if true, it serves CNN right. I can see why MSNBC is gaining market share.
Daniel O'Connell - 2/9/2007 6:10:00 AM EST
I like Anderson, but he has done nothing to make me forget Aaron Brown. Aaron's NewsNight was one of the most insightful and thought-provoking shows on TV. It wasn't flashy, but it was always interesting and worth watching. Anderson is cute, and he works hard, but I think Keith Olbermann of MSNBC is making far more impact on our generation than Anderson is. Keith has seen HUGE ratings increases in the past year, while Anderson's have remained about the same. I do enjoy watching Anderson sometimes, but I cannot see putting him in the same category as Aaron Brown or Keith Olbermann. And while I find Mr Klein's loyalty to Anderson commendable, I still believe he was wrong to have replaced NewsNight.
Donna L. Halper - 2/6/2007 12:30:00 PM EST
Anderson Cooper is a good journalist and he has a difficult task in making sure the public are aware of the issues in their community and around the world.There is nothing wrong if he is lauded and advertised..he risks his life everytime he says something no matter how factual and impartial it is..he risks his life everytime he goes on field to cover events.cnn is on the right track.anderson cooper and all cnn journalists are on the right track. and no matter how other network try to pull them down.. they continue to shine.. and the people will support them.we just hope they will never get tired of informing the public.kudos!!!
filipino viewer - 2/5/2007 6:22:00 PM EST
If Anderson Cooper is the pre-eminent journalist of his time, then why do they need to spend $20 million promoting him with the result being that he's still in 17th place, exactly where he was 2 years ago when Klein started.
Klein comes across in every interview as being more than mancrushing on Anderson, to the point of being completely nauseating.
Klein failed to mention the 22% drop that American Morning has had in viewers, typical convenient memory.
Klein is the person who decided for the personalities to stop emailing viewers, to stop the tours of CNN New York and to close the store in the TW building in New York. Anyone get the gist of how he feels about viewers?
It's time for CNN to get rid of Klein.
ACFan - 2/5/2007 4:21:00 PM EST
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