Brian Stelter, a 21-year-old Towson University journalism student who gained renown by breaking news about the television industry on his TVNewser blog, has been hired by The New York Times.
His hiring underscores the growing embrace by traditional media of bloggers who can help newspapers reach readers focused on the Internet. Stelter, editor of the campus paper The Towerlight before graduating last month, will write about the media for the Times.
"It'll be a cool combination of writing stuff for the Web and, if it's a good enough story, it'll become a larger story for the newspaper," said Stelter, who launched TVNewser in 2004. "It's a really exciting model, and I'm excited that they think so, too."
The Times almost never hires as a reporter someone who has just graduated from college. Typically, recent graduates are assigned clerical jobs and must work their way up, sometimes over many years, to the reporting staff. But Stelter's growing reputation evidently appealed to managers of the paper's Web site. He will join the Times on July 23 as an "8i reporter," a job classification assigned to reporter trainees.
"It's a perfect combination for me - doing what I'm doing but in a much more sophisticated environment," Stelter said. "I've been fascinated by how this new platform - blogging - can relate to the old platform of newspapers. Five years ago, I was becoming a little skeptical of newspapers. But now I look at this new media stuff they're doing, and I'm a lot more confident."
Lawrence Ingrassia, business editor of the Times, wrote in a memo to the staff that Stelter's hiring highlights the "expansion of our efforts to integrate what we do online and in the print edition."
Stelter was profiled in a front-page Times article in November. The story by Julie Bosman, headlined "The Kid With All the News About the TV News," said Stelter's blog "is read religiously by network presidents, media executives, producers and publicists."
Yesterday, Stelter said it felt "strange" to have been the subject of a story in the Times and then, only a few months later, to have been offered a job there.
"It's smart of them to go after young, Web-savvy people," said Stelter, who grew up in Damascus, Montgomery County, and began working with Web sites when he was 10 years old. On July 20, he will file his last entry for TVNewser, whose owner, mediabis tro.com, is looking for a new editor.
"At The New York Times, my blogs will be edited, which is a new experience for me," Stelter said. "Sometimes, on TVNewser, I've looked at it and said, 'I need an editor.' What will be cool in terms of professional growth now is that I'll have someone pushing me to be better."