Jonathan Klein (CNN)

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Jonathan Klein is an American media executive. He is the former president of CNN/U.S., who was responsible for management oversight of all programming, editorial tone and strategic direction of the network. Klein led CNN during its coverage of the 2008 presidential election, which resulted in the highest ratings in the history of the network.[1] During his six years at the network, CNN recorded six straight years of double-digit profit growth.[2] Klein was fired from CNN on September 24, 2010.[3][4]

Named to this position in November 2004, one of Klein's first acts was to deploy a large contingent of U.S.-based correspondents to cover the Asian tsunami, including Anderson Cooper (in his first major overseas assignment for CNN), Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Brown, and Soledad O'Brien. Previously, CNN would usually send locally-based overseas correspondents to cover breaking international stories. This tactic of "flooding the zone," as Klein called it,[5] became a hallmark of CNN's breaking news coverage during his tenure, on major stories such as Hurricane Katrina, the Israel-Lebanon war, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the BP oil spill. CNN won the DuPont-Columbia Award for its tsunami coverage,[6] and the George Foster Peabody Award for its coverage of Katrina.[7]

In early 2005 Klein canceled the long-running program Crossfire and replaced it with The Situation Room, saying that he agreed with Jon Stewart's criticism that the talk show was incendiary and detracting from reasoned political discussion.[8] The Situation Room featured lively graphics, a fast pace, and drew heavily on news from the Internet and especially the blogosphere; it was a harbinger of what became a CNN trademark of incorporating new technology into its broadcasts - including the launch of iReport user-generated journalism in 2006, the YouTube debate in 2007, the integration of Twitter into the network's newsgathering operation and its programs, the "magic" touchscreen wall used by John King during coverage of the 2008 election season, the use of real-time viewer-response graphs during presidential debates, and the controversial use of "holograms" (technically tomograms) to "beam in" reports by correspondent Jessica Yellin and the performer will.i.am from the Obama victory rally in 2008.

In late 2005 Klein named Anderson Cooper, who had become renowned for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, as anchor of CNN's 10pm hour, and released Aaron Brown, who had anchored NewsNight in that hour since 2001.[9] The stated goal was to make CNN more competitive in prime time through aggressive reporting. In 2008 Cooper's program, AC 360, became the #1 rated cable news show among adults 25-54, a first for the network in that time period.[10]

With In the Footsteps of bin Laden in 2006, Klein launched a series of four documentaries per year reported by CNN's Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. Her 2007 documentary, God's Warriors, a six-hour investigation of fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, and Jews, won the George Foster Peabody Award.[11] In 2008, CNN premiered Black in America, a four-hour documentary reported by Soledad O'Brien. The network continued the series in 2009 and 2010, and aired Latino in America in 2009. In 2009, CNN received a special President's Emmy Award from the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of its commitment to long form programming.[12]

In 2007, Klein launched CNN Heroes, an annual awards show honoring people the world over who have performed extraordinary feats of selflessness. That year, the network also launched "Impact Your World," connecting viewers moved by news stories with organizations devoted to those causes.

Klein attempted to hire Keith Olbermann away from MSNBC in 2006 to replace the struggling Paula Zahn at 8pm. The idea was rejected by Jim Walton, President of CNN Worldwide, and Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, of which CNN is a part.[13] Instead, Campbell Brown was hired away from NBC News as CNN's 8pm anchor. Her program never caught on in the ratings, and she left the network in the spring of 2010. In November 2009, Lou Dobbs, the controversial right-wing anchor who had come under fire for his outspoken views on immigration and President Obama's citizenship, announced that he had decided to leave the network to pursue advocacy journalism more freely.[14] Klein replaced him with John King as the 7pm anchor, and named Candy Crowley, a longtime political reporter, to replace King as host of the Sunday morning talk show, "State of the Union."

In 2008, Klein hired Fareed Zakaria, then editor of Newsweek International, to host Fareed Zakaria GPS, a weekly Sunday talk show focused on global affairs. Zakaria recently left Newsweek to join Time magazine, a corporate cousin of CNN's under the Time Warner umbrella.

Faced with declining ratings in prime time in the year following the Obama inauguration, Klein hired Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, and Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, to anchor a new 8 pm program; Parker Spitzer debuted in October 2010, shortly after Klein left the network. Klein also recruited and hired Piers Morgan to replace Larry King as host of the network's 9 pm interview show.[15]

Klein was also responsible for providing more air time for daytime anchor Rick Sanchez. Sanchez would later come under fire for comments he directed at Jon Stewart and CNN management on the Pete Dominick satellite radio program. The comments ultimately resulted in Sanchez's firing from CNN. Klein was fired from CNN one week before Sanchez's departure.[16]

Prior to CNN, Klein served as president and chief executive officer of The FeedRoom, a broadband video company he founded in 1999. Under his direction, The FeedRoom became one of the leading online broadcasters in the world, delivering more than 1 million video clips each day to customers including CBS, NBC, ESPN, Reuters, Tribune television stations and newspapers, USA Today, Business Week, General Motors, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, General Mills and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Before founding The FeedRoom, Klein was an executive vice president at CBS News, where he oversaw prime-time programming including 60 Minutes, 48 Hours and Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel. Klein also oversaw off-network production, guest booking, investigative reporting and strategic planning.

Klein began his television career in 1980 as a news producer at WLNE in Providence, R.I., and the following year moved to a similar position at WPIX-TV/Independent Network News in New York. In 1982, he joined CBS News as a writer and news editor on the overnight broadcast Nightwatch. He subsequently served as broadcast producer on CBS Morning News and then CBS Evening News Weekend Edition, where he won an Emmy Award for live coverage of the 1986 Reagan/Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

In 1988, Klein joined the fledgling prime-time magazine series 48 Hours as a field producer, eventually winning an Emmy Award for coverage of Hurricane Hugo and a Peabody Award for an hour he produced on the pro-life movement. Klein served as senior producer for CBS’s 1990 late-night series America Tonight with Charles Kuralt and Lesley Stahl, as senior producer for the network’s coverage of the 1991 Gulf War and later for the documentary Back to Baghdad, in which foreign correspondent Bob Simon returned to the Middle East following his imprisonment by the Iraqis during the war.

In 1993, Klein launched a unique prime-time documentary series, Before Your Eyes, two-hour movies-of-the-week that explored social issues such as child abuse, AIDS and juvenile delinquency through the eyes of real people living through dramatic moments in their lives with the cameras rolling. The series, for which Klein served as executive producer and director, was acclaimed for pioneering new forms of storytelling and received numerous national awards.

In 1997, Klein conceived and executive produced the CBS documentary Inside the Jury Room, in which network television cameras were permitted for the first time to observe deliberations in a criminal trial. The documentary won a Columbia-DuPont Silver Baton.

Klein also wrote the story for the TNT Original film Buffalo Soldiers, a 1997 historical drama starring Danny Glover.[17]

Klein graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1980 with a degree in history. He was news director and then general manager of WBRU-FM, a student-run 50,000-watt commercial radio station. He co-authored two musical comedies performed on the mainstage at Brown, and was elected class commencement speaker.

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