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After months of trials, CNN has settled on a host for its Sunday media magazine Reliable Sources.
The cable news network has hired New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter, who will part ways with the newspaper as part of the pact. In addition to fronting the weekly media watchdog series, he will report on media and entertainment news as a senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide throughout the week.
The news comes as CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who has been at the helm for one year this month, continues to add new faces to his roster. Former Reliable host Howard Kurtz left the post for Fox News earlier this year, and Stelter has been among the revolving door of guest hosts in the months since. NPR media reporter David Folkenflik and former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno reportedly were among the finalists.
“Brian has emerged as one of the top media reporters in the country and will be a great addition to our many platforms,” Zucker said in a statement Tuesday confirming the news, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, adding: “He grew up in the digital space, and has covered the media industry for his entire career. Brian has a keen understanding of this field — as both a journalist covering the industry and as an innovator — first, by creating his own digital platform, and second, by also leveraging the countless ways information is disseminated to enhance his storytelling.”
Stelter has covered the television industry for the New York Times since 2007 and published a book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, about the competitive morning news business earlier this year. Though Zucker didn’t spell it out in his statement, Stelter brings with him a sense of youth — at 28 years old, he represents a demographic that isn’t watching TV news — and social media savvy, as evidenced by his 206,000-plus Twitter followers.
He first established himself in TV news circles with his blog, TVNewser, which he created during his tenure as a college student at Maryland’s Towson University. Within six months he had sold it to Mediabistro.com, though he remained involved as a writer and editor for some three years. Not long after The New York Times printed a feature on him entitled The Kid With All the News About the TV News in late 2006, the paper hired him as a full-time reporter on the media beat.
“It is an honor to take the helm of Reliable Sources, the very best of a very small number of programs about the media’s role in society,” Stelter added in a statement. “I’m equally excited about reporting throughout the week on CNN’s many digital platforms and television networks. CNN is reimagining media coverage at what is the best time ever to be covering media, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”
The move is something of an about-face for Stelter, who told the Washington Post that he “would not leave the Times for a television job” in an interview this summer. Though Kurtz was able to maintain a series of writing gigs during his time on Reliable, Stelter almost instantly found himself at the center of criticism as he appeared on CNN and continued to cover TV news, albeit in a scaled-back capacity, for the Times. His departure will inevitably fuel talk about the recent brain drain at the Times, with Nate Silver, now at ESPN, among several other high-profile exits.
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Robert De Niro