CNN has named The New York Times media industry reporter Brian Stelter to host Reliable Sources, the network’s Sunday program that focuses on the top media stories. He’s replacing Howard Kurtz, who had been media industry reporter at The Washington Post when he got the gig, later moving to The Daily Beast; Kurtz, who headlined Reliable Sources for 15 years, left in July and now hosts a similar program, MediaBuzz for Fox News Channel, which has been beating Reliable Sources in ratings. Unlike Kurtz when he hosted Reliable Sources, Stelter is leaving his newspaper position to take the TV job, though he had said he would not leave the NYTimes for a TV job when he began auditioning for the CNN post. This morning he reported, via Twitter, that leaving the NYTimes is “surreal.” That’s because he’d been there since graduating college — which is to say since 2007. At NYTimes, he covered television and digital media for the Media & Advertising and Arts sections of the newspaper and for the newspaper’s blog, Media Decoder. Stelter also will serve as a senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. Stelter was among a rotation of reporters who cover the media, including CNN, who’d tried out for the cable news network job. In 2013, Stelter published The New York Times best-selling book Top Of The Morning: Inside The Cutthroat World Of Morning TV (2013). Stelter also created TVNewser, a blog covering the television news industry, in 2004 while a college freshman at Towson University. Six months later he sold TVNewser to Mediabistro.com, though he continued to edit and write for the blog for three more years.
MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz (862,000 viewers) has a 90% advantage over Reliable Sources (454,000) in its 10 weeks on FNC, during which RS has been hosted by auditioners. In the news demo, MediaBuzz (168,000) maintains a 34% lead over Reliable Sources (125,000).
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, said he was “thrilled” to welcome Stelter to his staff. “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.”