Why they hate us
Andrew Councill for The New York Times
Brian Stelter, a college student and the blogger
behind TVNewser, a must-read in the television
The Kid With All the News About the TV News
By JULIE BOSMAN
Published: November 20, 2006
TOWSON, Md. — When people in the television news business want to find out what’s going on in their industry, they turn to a blog called TVNewser. But while the executives obsessively checking TVNewser are mostly high powered and highly paid, the person who creates it is not: he is Brian Stelter, a baby-faced 21-year-old at Towson University here, a few miles north of Baltimore.
“I’ve heard people joke that when TVNewser is dormant, the kid had a final or a big family dinner that he couldn’t get out of,” said Brian Williams, the NBC news anchor and a TVNewser devotee. “People from entry level to high and mighty check in on it.”
When his postings dropped off last month after his girlfriend dumped him, Mr. Stelter found himself fielding complaints from powerful network executives about when he was going to get over his romantic travails and get back on track. “I was dealing with drama,” he said.
Mr. Stelter’s blog (tvnewser.com), a seven-day-a-week, almost 24-hour-a-day newsfeed of gossip, anonymous tips, newspaper article links and program ratings, has become a virtual bulletin board for the industry.
It is read religiously by network presidents, media executives, producers and publicists, not for any stinging commentary from Mr. Stelter, whose style is usually described as earnest, but because it provides a quick snapshot of the industry on any given day. Habitués include Mr. Williams and Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN’s domestic operations, who long ago offered up his cellphone number to Mr. Stelter.
“The whole industry pays attention to his blog,” said Jeffrey W. Schneider, a senior vice president of ABC News. “It would not surprise me if I refreshed my browser 30 to 40 times a day.”
In April Mr. Stelter attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as a guest of MSNBC.
“He was quite a celebrity,” said Jeremy Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC. “Literally two tables over was George Clooney, and at our table was TVNewser, and people were waiting in line to see him.”
Perhaps this is what the techno-geeks had in mind when they invented the Internet — a device to squash not only time and space, but also social class and professional hierarchies, putting an unprepossessing Maryland college student with several term papers due in a position to command the attention and grudging respect of some of society’s most famous and powerful personalities.
Or maybe it just worked out that way.
Mr. Stelter chronicles the gossipy New York-Hollywood television industry from the tiny, leafy campus at Towson, where he is a senior majoring in mass communication (he has a 3.5 grade-point average) and the editor of the student newspaper. He started the blog in 2004 on a whim during winter break, and not long after he was hired by a journalism Web site to keep it going. These days, by 9 a.m. he is awake and blogging, sometimes in class, courtesy of a campuswide Wi-Fi connection, as well as from his apartment, the student union and his cluttered desk in a corner of the newspaper office.
Mr. Stelter has earned the grudging trust of many of his readers, who e-mail him hundreds of tips a day that often translate into scoops, like the early warning that Peter Jennings, the former ABC News anchor, was near death or, more recently, the discovery of a Photoshopped publicity shot of Katie Couric, the “ CBS Evening News” anchor, that made her appear a dress size or two smaller.
How much does television care about Mr. Stelter’s little blog?
“The biggest TV executives, the men and women who run the top networks, look at this kid’s Web site all the time,” said Joe Scarborough, the host of the talk show “Scarborough Country” on MSNBC. “And the genius of it is that everybody thinks they own him. Everybody says: ‘Oh, I’ve got a great relationship with Brian. Let me leak it to him.’ ”
The best ideas come from the people willing to execute them, not from committees. Let him try to get a real job in media and the knives would come out. Sure, they'll hire him to run his site, but to make him a TV trade columnist, never happen
posted by Steve @ 1:23:00 AM