In the beginning, CableNewser was a mystery. Cable industry players and TV news junkies logged on to the Web site cablenewser.com for insight and dish, never knowing who exactly was behind it all--or with any idea that they were often being scooped by an 18-year-old college student. That is until the New York Times blew his cover in May. Brian Stelter, a journalism student at Maryland's Towson University, talked with AJR's Melissa Cirillo about his role as a young journalism watchdog.
Q: How did you become confident enough in your knowledge and understanding of the cable news industry to launch "CableNewser"?
A: Well, actually, I got sick of yelling at the TV and having no one to complain to.... I've been watching [cable news] since 1996 ... and I started reading a lot about the cable business. Originally I was hoping to get a lot of reader response ... but now I feel confident that I can have a knowledgeable analysis myself.
Q: Do you worry that disclosing your identity may have compromised your access to sources or others' willingness to take you seriously?
A: I figured I'd never get a job if people knew who I was, but now I have people who say, "Call me when you get out of school." I think people trust me more now because they see that I'm just someone looking in from the outside.... Before they didn't know who I was working for. I've been surprised by the response.
Q: Have you gained any celebrity status among your journalism professors or others? …