Founding TVNewser: HOW A CABLE NEWS BLOG TURNED INTO A TOP SOURCE FOR THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BROADCAST MEDIA

By Stelter, Brian | ADWEEK, January 14, 2019 | Go to article overview

Founding TVNewser: HOW A CABLE NEWS BLOG TURNED INTO A TOP SOURCE FOR THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BROADCAST MEDIA


Stelter, Brian, ADWEEK


Television news matters. The networks should be monitored, scrutinized, criticized and applauded when appropriate. And all of the scrutiny makes TV news better.

That was the simple idea behind the launch of my blog CableNewser 15 years ago. I was a television news junkie, and I wanted to read more about the shows, the stars and the screw-ups.

I was also intrigued by this up and-coming thing called blogging. In 2003, it suddenly became really easy to set up a blog and start publishing anything, anytime, anywhere. In the days before Facebook and Twitter, this was a revelation.

So in the fall of 2003, when I was starting classes at Towson University, I came up with CableNewser, the name of the website and my anonymous identity. I figured no one at the networks would take me seriously if they knew I was only 18 years old. I started the site on New Year's Day 2004, when the biggest news involved Deborah Norville's new MSNBC show and the expansion of CNN'slnside Politics to Sundays.

I was just aggregating at first--linking to other sites and stories- but word about the blog spread quickly, thanks to links from blogs like BuzzMachine and lnstapundit. Within weeks, I was being read by the same people I was writing about, like Brian Williams and Greta Van Susteren and Tucker Carlson.

The site took off in a way I never expected. It was a bulletin board for the cable news world. A trade publication for the digital age. Every industry needs one. When I started the blog, there was nothing else quite like it. I loved sites about journalism, like Romenesko, and about local news, like News Blues. But my obsession was cable news. I felt like media reporters paid too much attention to the broadcast giants and gave short shrift to the cable channels that were influencing the broadcasters every day. Cable news was changing television-for better and for worse-and the channels needed to be scrutinized. Pointing out on-air errors and other screw-ups was-and is-a pretty solid way to ensure fewer in the future.

One small addition a month after the site's launch made an enormous difference: an anonymous tip box right at the top of the page, allowing anybody to send me a message. Most of the tips were really just quips, complaints and links to stories. But one out of 100 was actually newsworthy, giving me reasons to get in touch with anchors, agents and PR people. …

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