I made a mistake.

March 20, 2014

Jim Steyer long time defender of Channel One's right to sell junk food to schoolchildren.

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Jim Steyer

From Jim Metrock:

How could I have forgotten the unforgettable Jim Steyer.

Of all the people I have crossed paths with in the battle against commercialism in classrooms, I rank Jim Steyer near the bottom.  There is good reason to do so.

The other day I wrote an article about the “education” panel session put together by Channel One’s head of public relations Ms. Alex Honeysett.  The panel had Honeysett’s boss Channel One’s CEO Ms. CJ Kettler and three other panelists.  I knew the other panelists couldn’t be renown educators because educators overwhelming are offended by Channel One’s commercial exploitation of schoolchildren.  

I knew two of the three panelists were from companies that had some connection with Channel One.  The third one was from Common Sense Media and I couldn’t figure out a connection.  That was my mistake.  I was lazy.  I didn’t look deep enough into Common Sense Media. 

I started thinking about Common Sense Media after a teacher sent me an email:

Mar 18   9:55 AM
Read your article and then found this…


“Parents need to know that this site is the online partner of Channel One News, a news service broadcast in more than 11,000 middle and high schools. Some groups have voiced objections to the news service because its 10-minute broadcast contains two minutes of commercials. The Web site itself has a fair amount of advertising, including banner ads. Otherwise, the site is safe and appropriate for teens. There’s one section that allows users to submit videos, but it requires permission from a parent. Parents will appreciate the content on Internet safety.”
Appears that Common Sense is, in fact, a partner of Channel One and they know full well what and who they are. If they are no longer partners, then they need to update this review.


This is a powder puff review of Channel One’s infamous website.  Common Sense Media tries their best to praise Channel One for something.  They end up praising their Internet safety content.  Really?  What about Channel One’s constant efforts to get personal information from young people either for Channel One’s use or for the use of their advertisers?  Common Sense Media, is it a smart idea for Channel One to constantly drive students, some just out of elementary school to Channel One’s Facebook page where the child’s picture and other personal information can be seen by anybody on the Internet?  It doesn’t surprise me that Common Sense appears to be Channel One’s buddy because after I received this teacher’s email I looked into Common Sense Media’s management and lo and behold – Jim Steyer is the founder.  Of course!  Jim Steyer -the notorious shill for Channel One.

In 2003, Jim Steyer wrote a book called The Other Parent.  He said many things I agreed with concerning the toxic world of network television. But there were a few paragraphs of the book that didn’t sound like Steyer.  They didn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the book. It was obvious reading this part of his book that Steyer was pitching a product and the product was of all things – Channel One.

Below in blue is what Jim Steyer said in his book The Other Parent.  This came from Channel One.  Steyer added a little bit to help give some balance, but this was the work of Dr. Paul Folkemer, registered lobbyist for Channel One.  Folkemer is most certainly the “former executive vice president” Steyer refers to. Part of Folkemer’s job as Executive Vice President of Education was to find people to say nice things about Channel One News.  Steyer embarrassed himself by dropping a commercial for Channel One in the middle of his otherwise authentic book. Did money change hands? Did Channel One help out Steyer’s nonprofit in exchange for a plug in his book?  That is of little consequence now, so I’ll give Jim Steyer the benefit of the doubt and simply call him tone deaf when it comes to the welfare of schoolchildren.  

We now know that Ms. CJ Kettler’s “education” panel in Austin, TX was comprised of Channel One friends.

page 116  The Other Parent: Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on our Children (2003)

Perhaps the biggest media lightning rod in this debate has been Channel One, a company founded in 1989 to bring kid-friendly newscasts into schools.  It’s actually an effort, on balance, I support.  Channel One wires schools with satellite dishes, classroom television sets, and VCRs and delivers a daily ten-minute broadcast, alone with two minutes of commercials by sponsors such as Mars candy, Clearasil, Polaroid, Gatorade, Pepsi, and McDonalds.  The ads have attracted a flood of criticism from consumer groups, but a former executive vice president of Channel One – now owned by Primedia – compared the company’s business model to that of newspapers and commercial television. “To provide this international coverage, we are advertising-based,” he said, “just like the Houston Chronicle or any other news service.”

I personally think that Channel One is worth it.  Most kids don’t read the newspaper or watch television news, and Channel One gives them consistently high-quality information about the issues in the world around them.  The company’s reporting on the AIDS virus, for example earned Channel One a Peabody Award.  I’m certainly no defender of commercialism in the schools, and I wish that Channel One did not have to resort to advertisements to fund its efforts.  But the fact is our public schools are so desperately underfunded that they cannot pay for quality, informative current events programming.  That to me is a far bigger threat to schools and our kids’ education than a couple of minutes of ads they know to expect on Channel One.


For the record, when Jim Steyer wrote his book he knew should have known there was a youth obesity crisis raging in America.  His nonchalant mention of Channel One’s junk food advertising is nauseating.  Steyer knew or should have known that Channel One had been advertising movies and TV shows that were loaded with violence, sexual content, drug use, and underage drinking.  He gave Channel One a pass on that.  Why?  Steyer only quoted one person, a former executive at Channel One (Folkemer).  Why?  The reason was Steyer the author was no longer “telling” a story, but rather “selling” a bill of goods to trusting readers.


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