28 June 2011

Smart, Perceptive Person Writes Book I Will Probably Never Want To Read

The news broke yesterday that New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter got a book deal. Well, that's not surprising; they do that all the time, but this one is different in a few ways, and one of those ways is that I don't want to read it.

Stelter says: "Why do morning shows matter? Because they collectively set the nation's breakfast table every day."

...Yeah, maybe 20 years ago, and maybe they still do for your mom, ahem, for the generation of boomers and elderly Americans for whom turning on the television is a natural part of the morning routine. I'd conjecture that that is no longer a natural reflex for most people under 40. Personally, the screens I'm facing in the morning are Blackberry, laptop, iPod and work desktop, in that order. I'll watch a YouTube video, but I'll never turn on "Today," even if I have heard someone I like is going to be on it. Waiting for a particular spot takes too long (hello, generational stereotypes) and there's so much noise, so little significance. I'd rather lie in bed reading my friends' tweets from last night. (Too much? Oh well.)

I point this out because, but not only because, Mr Stelter has taken the step of asking on Twitter and Tumblr for feedback about what people want to read in his just-announced book. The book's microsite asks: "What have you always wondered about morning TV? Who would you like to read more about?" To be honest... nothing, and nobody.

I don't know Mr Stelter, but I don't begrudge him his prodigy rep, as he seems to come by it honestly. I hope to run into him at a party someday as we have something very personal in common that I would like to ask him about (off the record, of course). At the same time, as a regular reader of his work I think his energies could be better spent in about 18 different directions. If he wrote a book about "Jersey Shore," I would read that with relish. How the "Real Housewives" came to be despite not being real and distorting the word housewife into some kind of horror parody of itself... I would read that book. (Someone should write that book, actually. Free idea! For anyone who watches those shows already!) I just lack the dimension to find out the secret behind-the-scenes power of morning shows. I would say that nobody asked me, but, well, the author did, and that is my opinion.

...Watch, it will win 800 Pulitzers and I will be eating these words around 2013. Well, if we're all still blogging and we haven't switched to holograms!


Elizabeth said...

You are so right. When I lived at home, my mother watched the Today Show every morning over breakfast, whereas the only time I ever turn on my television is to watch a DVD. (Especially since our cable disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived, but seeing as I can watch Daily Show episodes on demand on their web site, even that's not much of a loss.)

Ellen said...

Maybe the book I would read is a book about how morning-show culture evolved into its current state, where my only exposure to those shows is in YouTube clips relayed by some secondary medium (blog post, Facebook or Twitter link).

Apparently the publisher and Stelter came up with the idea together. But to be fair, the book went to Grand Central, whose parent company Hachette (as far as I can tell) doesn't own any of the major 4 networks. I tried to check into this further but my head started to hurt. Mergers! You suuuuuck!