“Twitter helped me recognize the value of Content Insights’ mission” a conversation with SVP, John Klem

If you ever needed reminding that the 24 hour news cycle is real, you only need open Twitter. Here, in the UK – the land of tea, biscuits and Greenwich Mean Time – I’m in the thick of it. The day winds down in the east as I’m catching up on industry news over breakfast, and ramps up in the west as I’m off to bed

News stories ebb and flow through the Twitter filter in accordance with local time zones. It never stops.

So, even though it’s midsummer and the light stretches out into the evening, it’s dark out by the time I get to speak to John Klem, who’s happily having morning coffee in the East Bay area of San Francisco.

John’s our SVP Sales for North America and joined us back in 2018.

How he joined us is noteworthy. We’ll let him tell it.

OK then, John. You and I are often found on Twitter. Why?

[Laughs] Well, that’s a big question for starters! I just find it fascinating that we’ve entered a space where all the politicians are, all the brands are, all the celebrities and key personalities too. So, it follows that all the journalists have to be there too. We have to congregate where the conversation is.

We get to see both sides of the equation: all the viewpoints, all the controversies. Elsewhere – particularly in our own news sphere – most of us have constructed our own filter bubbles, so life’s not all ‘out there’ in the same way. I don’t always like what I see there, but it’s curiously reassuring to know it’s all there.

That’s true – it is a bit of a melee, isn’t it? You’re also right about the conversations to be found there. But, enquiring minds need to know: is it true you that’s where you found out about CI?

It is. And, more than that, it’s also how I got involved. I’d read an article about Süddeutsche Zeitung partnering up with Content Insights and knowing the reputation of that publication, I was intrigued, so I did something I don’t often do, and I messaged Dejan [Nikolic] on Twitter. We started a thread and I told him I wanted to get involved.

So you started working for CI as a result of a Twitter discussion? That’s a pretty strong reaction to content – I like that! 

That’s partly why I value the platform so much. It’s not just frivolous: Twitter’s one of those places you have to pay attention to understand what’s going on in our industry. It’s where people share stories, but it’s where they offload too. I’m at a point in my career now, where I have the confidence to follow my instincts and the mission that Content Insights was built on immediately resonated with me.

Now that you’ve brought it up, what has your career path been? What’s your background?

I moved out to Silicon Valley twenty years ago to join a syndication startup, and though I’ve worked with various tech-centric companies over the years, publishing is the thread that runs through everything. It’s something I grew up in: my father also worked for a global syndication agency based in New York City and which was founded in the 1930s, called Editors’ Press Service. Clearly it’s in the genes, somehow.

Supporting something that I feel is so vital to everything we stand for is critical to me. It’s not just a paycheck.

iSyndicate was exciting, but it’s no longer here. I mean, you can find it on Way Back Machine, but it’s gone otherwise. Ditto with projects I worked on at Yahoo. All those amazing products have vanished. They were building blocks. Being involved with an organization which is supporting something that I feel is so vital to everything we stand for – I mean, it’s in our constitution –  it’s critical to me. It’s not just a paycheck. I enjoy working with publishers because I think they have a unique perspective on the world. They’re tough bosses to have – they can make grown men cry – and coming from New Jersey, I prefer the direct approach!

And the mission you mentioned? 

I think we all want the same thing: a way to support quality journalism. Quality resonates. It always has, and it’s great to be part of a company that’s working on the basis that we need to support that, and has built a product around that premise. There’s a lot of experience here, and a lot of passion, so that even when I’m half a world away, it’s easy to feel like we’re on the same page.

Agreed. Always great to chat, John!


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