People who are in the television news business, or are interested in following the inside machinations of the media, have come to rely on a spunky little site called TVNewser. Recently, its founder, a college student at the time, Brian Stelter, graduated and was hired by the New York Times.
Well, it’s only been a week and there are already signs of trouble, as seen in this excerpt from an item about newsman Bob Franken:
“…his cousin, ex-Saturday Night Live star Al Franken, a rabid leftie, is running for the Senate in Minnesota.”
This is a disturbing and inauspicious beginning for new TVNewser, Chris Ariens. It exhibits the kind of juvenile disparagement one might expect from Matt Drudge. You could have reasonably described Franken as Liberal or Progressive, but “leftie” is a deliberately pejorative abbreviation. And what exactly is “rabid” about Franken’s positions, which fit squarely within the mainstream of America that is overwhelming against the war in Iraq, in favor of universal health care, worried about global warming, and disapproving of Bush and Cheney?
The next day, TVNewser had an item about liberal groups pressuring FNC advertisers. However they never reported on Bill O’Reilly’s targeting of liberal bloggers and their sponsors, which is what motivated the liberal groups to respond in kind.
This isn’t the first instance of a dubious omission. A couple of weeks ago, Glenn Beck filled in for Paula Zahn on CNN. He bombed in the ratings, but TVNewser, whose mission it is to report on such ratings performance, never mentioned it.
Jupiter Media purchased TVNewser’s parent, Media Bistro, earlier this year. While I have no reason to criticize Jupiter, I believe it is worth noting that the spunky little web site is now part of an expansive, publicly traded, Internet conglomerate.
Whether or not these changes are responsible for the recent degradation in tone at TVNewser, I can’t say with certainty. However, I can say that if this is what I can expect from TVNewser in the wake of Stelter’s departure, I will certainly not consider it a useful resource in the future, and I suspect that many others will agree with me.
Feel free to email your thoughts to TVNewser.