At home in the center of the news world
When it comes to timing, Jonathan Klein, who late last year became president of CNN's U.S. operations, has it. As head of Time Warner's 24-hour news channel and Web site for about a month at the time, Klein had to step up to the plate and direct coverage of one of the worst natural disasters in history - the tsunami in south Asia.
On December 26, traditionally the slowest news day of the year, an underwater earthquake in the Indian Ocean set off the tsunami across southern Asia. All eyes were on Klein.
On the Monday after the disaster first struck, Klein jetted from his office in New York to CNN's headquarters in Atlanta. Klein had to decide whether to continue the news network's coverage of the tsunami's aftermath. He had been preparing that night's broadcast of a special primetime report, "Turning the Tide," as well as a documentary, "Saving the Children," hosted by Christiane Amanpour.
"Ever since Sept. 11th, the demand for global news has soared," says Klein, who won an Emmy as a producer on the CBS news magazine "48 Hours" for coverage of Hurricane Hugo in 1988. "As our coverage of the tsunami disaster demonstrates, our network is uniquely qualified and positioned to satisfy that demand with an international news operation that runs round the clock," he explains.
Prior to joining CNN, Klein left the traditional media world in 1999 to help launch The FeedRoom, an Internet broadcaster of broadband news footage for clients such as NBC Universal, CBS, the Tribune Company, Reuters, and others. The company's plan emphasized broadband communications as a platform for advertising-supported multimedia content. The FeedRoom has been at the forefront of multimedia news delivery.
But Klein spent most of his career at the Tiffany Network, working his way up to become an executive vice president at CBS News, where he oversaw primetime programming. He started his career in TV journalism more modestly.
After graduating from Brown University as a history major, Klein in 1980 served as a news producer at WLNE in Providence, R.I.
The following year, Klein moved to a similar position at WPIX-TV in New York. And in 1982, he joined CBS News as a writer and news editor on the overnight broadcast "Nightwatch," subsequently serving as a broadcast producer on "CBS Morning News" and then "CBS Evening News Weekend Edition," where he won his first Emmy for live coverage of the 1986 Reagan/Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.
In 1993, Klein took a different direction. He launched a primetime documentary series, "Before Your Eyes," which consisted of "two-hour movies-of-the-week" that explored social issues such as child abuse, AIDS, and juvenile delinquency in cinema verite style. Klein also wrote the story for the TNT original film "Buffalo Soldiers," a 1997 historical drama starring Danny Glover.
"I've always tried to focus on things I care about, but often from different perspectives," Klein says. "At his core, Jon's a producer," says Bart Feder, president and CEO of The FeedRoom, who has known Klein since their days together at WPIX. "The reason the FeedRoom was successful was because he takes everything from the perspective of the viewer. Now in his move to CNN, he's incorporating both of the new media and old media realms and bringing it to bear on what is really a convergence medium."