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To Save CNN, You Must Kill It

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ever since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, Time Warner's (TWX) CNN has been under fire.

I actually don't have a strong opinion one way or the other of the network's coverage of the mystery. That's, in part, because I haven't watched much of it aside from clips on the Internet. Some of the stuff I have seen -- like Don Lemon's "black hole" inanity -- made me laugh after I cringed. That said, doing television isn't easy -- not from a host, guest or producer standpoint.

Until you have walked a tenth of a kilometer in their shoes, be careful how you judge.

Before I back up my seemingly outrageous headline with narrative that would make David Carr of The New York Times proud, full disclosure:

After having appeared on CNN as a guest for a while, I had preliminary discussions with them about working there. Very preliminary, but at a relatively high level.

I spent a short amount of time with Jeff Zucker, CNN's President, in New York last year. He seemed to dig what I had to say.

Shortly after that meeting, I met with CNN's "VP of Talent Development and Acquisition," Roman Escobar. We had what felt like a positive 90-minute interaction. Escobar was supposed to follow up. He never did. And that's all good.

I'm quite low on Zucker and Escobar's priority list. And there's no reason why I should be high.

Late last year, I stopped appearing on CNN by choice. Three things top the list of reasons why -- I have minimal aspiration to be a TV star; I don't think, in the venue CNN and cable news offers, I'm all that good at TV; and I'm not a fan of working for free, particularly if it takes away from the work I do for my employer, TheStreet, which it was.

It's kind of cool to be on TV when you first do it. And the exposure was -- I guess -- nice. But the value of exposure diminishes exponentially with each appearance. Being on TV as a cable news guest ultimately turns into work you're not getting paid for. And, like I said, I had no real desire to pay my dues with high hopes that I'd morph into a TV celebrity.

So this article doesn't stem from hard feelings. Media stuff like this just intrigues me. It always has. Ever since I was about nine years old. So that's a good 30 years. And I think I have something to add to the conversation.

Plus, if you're an investor in the media space -- particularly traditional media -- what happens with CNN says at least a little something about the mindset of the people running Time Warner. That matters if you're looking to buy or sell the stock.

I'm stepping back and taking a more conceptual look at CNN, the predicament it's in and, with that in mind, how it ought to proceed.

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