Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The man who midwifed the Tabloid Baby bloggers

Don Fitzpatrick has died. Fitz was a good guy in the TV news business-- and an influential guy, to boot. He was the TV industry’s first blogger, founder of TVSpy.com, whose Shoptalk forum was the first place Tabloid Baby spouted off and raised hackles on the Web.

Shoptalk was a must-read among TV folks before all the other sites and email services came along: industry news, PR releases, and a letters section to have your say. We had ours and did our best to stir things up, arguing that Geraldo Rivera was more influential to today’s crop of TV journos than Woodward and Bernstein, offering evidence that Woodstein’s “Deep Throat” was a dramatic device, criticizing sacred cows and anchormen and getting the knickers of superserious local newsies seriously twisted. We even taunted Shoptalk regular John Corcoran to the point where he actually quit writing his corny letters!

And Fitz got a great kick out of it.

Fitz was blogging about TV before there was a World Wide Web-- or even the word “blog.” In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Just as TV Tattle and so many others do today, each day he’d digest articles on TV stations from various newspapers and magazines around the country. Later, it morphed to the Web and became TVSpy.com.

Defamer. TV Tattle. Google News. Fitz was there first.

You can also thank him for the type of faces you see on TV news. His primary business was headhunting for local TV news talent. The San Francisco-based Don Fitzpatrick Associates helped TV journos land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks.

A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to Don Fitzpatrick!

No comments: