Old hires new

Great news for the future of journalism: TVNewser Brian Stelter has been hired by The New York Times business section to cover media online and in print.

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.

Pay attention, journalism students: When I suggest that you blog, this is what I’m talking about. Take a beat. Add journalism to the discussion around it. Answer a need. And if you’re good, good things can happen.

Pay attention, also, editors: There is talent working outside your newsroom. Go find that talent. Nurture it. You don’t even have to hire it.

Long ago, when Brian went to Media Bistro, I briefly tried to counsel him not to take the job because I thought he could build something bigger on his own. His move there was good for him — it paid him — and good for Media Bistro — it let them own the beat he owned. And it’s equally a good move for him to go to the Times.

But hiring is not the only way to find, engage, and nurture such talent. A media organization could syndicate content (as washingtonpost.com is doing with PrezVid at Channel08). It could sell ads for the blogger (as washingtonpost.com, again, is doing with its blog ad network). It can provide promotion and services and knowledge.

I’m delighted for Brian. He’s a star. The official memo from Times business editor Larry Ingrassia says:

You read about him on the front page of The New York Times last November, in “The Kid With All the News About the TV News.” Now you’ll read him in The New York Times.

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. . . .

So dedicated was Brian to his blog that he updated it – posting an item about NBC News – between interviews with Times editors in our building recently.

I sent email to Brian urging him to learn from his new colleagues, of course, but also to remember that they have a lot to learn from him. I hope they know that.