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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Meet Jon Klein

OK--it's been a while, and for anyone who's listening I'll probably have some things to say about the upfronts (I've been going to the Chicago simulcasts this week) pretty soon, and I've been challenged by my father to somehow add to the "debate" over this Newsweek stuff, which I doubt is possible at this point.

But first things first: CNN president Jon Klein is well-known, at least among people who care about this sort of thing, as founder of the Feedroom, a tech firm that contracts with companies to deliver broadband video.

Obviously, Klein stepped down as Feedroom's president and CEO when he took over CNN last November. But as the Feedroom web site makes clear, Klein continues to sit on the company's board of directors (he even rates a picture).

And as this client list and this Lost Remote interview with current Feedroom CEO Bart Feder make just as clear, Feedroom's major clients include General Motors, Wal-Mart, and the Pentagon. Here's Feder:
Half of our revenue is from our corporate business. WalMart, GM, Sun, Cisco, Chevron, Hess…. We support the Pentagon Channel and the US Air Force (channel).
Can anyone explain why on earth the president of CNN sits on the board of directors of a company that derives half of its revenue from institutions that CNN covers?
Would CNN let any of its reporters sit on corporate boards? So why should it's ultimate decision-maker be allowed to? Is this not a no-brainer? Even for a network that's accustomed to being involved in glaring conflicts of interest?

And if that's too Brillian a compaint for you, how about this quote from Feder, from the same interview with Lost Remote:
Video is a great tool to use for PR and corporate communications… they can use a lot of content, and have it feel like news.
So not only is Klein on the board of a company that contracts with the Pentagon, but it's a company that actually helps the government deliver PR that "feels like news." Wasn't there supposed to be something wrong with the federal government delivering PR that feels like news?