Monday, June 18, 2007

Gray Lady robs cradle, hires TVNewser

At one of the most productive intersections of old media and new, the dead tree version will try and rejuvenate itself by eating babies.

The New York Times' hiring of 21-year-old Brian Stelter, the writer of MediaBistro's popular TVNewser blog, has set the blogosphere a twitter, if not, indeed, started it twittering.

Gawker proclaims that the wunderkind (so described by virtually every reference to Stelter in both old and new media) is set to become a thorn in the side of New York Times media reporter Bill Carter

Things will undoubtedly get very interesting very quickly. Stelter has a ton of sources in the industry, and is just the kind of hungry fellow who could show up his older colleagues. Unless he gets stabbed in the back!
Meanwhile, Jeff Jarivs at Buzz Machine writes that Stelter's hiring should be an inspiration to writers.
The reason that’s good news — besides Brian’s energy and talents now adding to the paper of record — is that it shows how anyone can take on a beat, do it on their own, make it their own, and rise up to the top of the field. Nobody covered TV news as well and completely as Brian. That’s why TV news execs read (and fed) him. That’s why the Times hired him. He did this without a journalism degree or any degree, actually — or even the legal ability to drink beer. On a blog, nobody knows you’re a dog. They just knew that he knew his stuff.

One takeaway is that while Stelter uniquely defined the beat on his blog - note the old world term applied in new world way - the old fashioned way: He reported, worked sources and wrote interesting tales. The hiring reinforces the mantra that content is king. As he told the New York Observer, "It was time to stop reporting on reporters and start being a reporter,” Mr. Stelter said by phone on June 12, shortly after The Times, in an internal memo, announced he had done just that."

This is less about technology, more about talent. Strip away the bits and bytes and what you're left with are the ideas. It makes you wonder whether all the noise about social networking amounts to an evolution or revolution.

At any rate, good for Stelter - and media of all vintages.

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