We told you this morning that a headline in today's New York Times declared that the syndicated television series based on the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com is a "hit"-- and that the acompanying article praised the show and its 1.7 Nielsen rating as being far in the lead of a freshman crop that incudes a talk show hosted by Jerry Springer's bald bouncer. "Nice work, Harvey," we wrote.
And then someone at the Tabloid Baby staff lunch brought up the fact that the analytical and approving article wasn't written by the Times' first-string media reporter Bill Carter or the colorful Jacques Sternberg-- but by one Brian Stelter.
We wondered: Who is this experienced analyst of television ratings trends and pronouncer of hit shows, who spun the lowest-rated infotainment magazine show (with ratings well below the invisible Inside Edition) into "the top-rated new show in syndication"? A quick search on the Internet revealed that Mr. Stelter is a new hire. A young hire. And and a very pointed hire:
"The New York Times has recently hired Brian Stelter, the 21-year-old,Towson University graduate blogger behind TVNewser.com. The hire comes after the Times recently wrote an article about Stelter... which discusses the importance of his blog... which is frequented by top executives in the industry. We've got nothing against 21-year-olds or bloggers (we've been accused of being "bloggers" ourselves), but knowing that the TMZ "hitmaker" is a kid with a potential rooting interest in seeing websites make the transition to television success does diminish the impact of the benediction from the paper-of-record.
"In an internal memo, the Times discusses the hire: 'Brian Stelter, the TVNewser blogger, is joining the Times next month as an 8i reporter to cover the media world for NYTimes.com and for the paper. He will report to media editor Bruce Headlam, and will work closely with Business Day reporters and with our friends in Culture, including television editor Steve Reddicliffe and reporters Bill Carter, Jacques Steinberg and Ed Wyatt'..."
But no worries. We don't think many members of the lazy mainstream media who'll copy the New York Times story and repeat the factoid will consider the byline.
(UPDATE: Our pals over at Fishbowl LA say we're trashing their former colleague. We're just trying to put things into perspective. Four months ago, the "mainstream media" would have shrugged off the 21-year-old's excited TMZ pronouncement as the work of a "blogger" in his "underwear" in his "basement." What a difference a New York Times byline makes.)