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Introducing…Panel Nerds!

panelnerds-i-disagree-sirDo you love topical panels, lectures, and seminars, but can’t seem to find the time to attend them? Do you want to know what your favorite columnist had to say about her newest project, even if you don’t live in New York City? Would you be interested in reading about the five most captivating moments from an hour-long event?  If so, then you’ll love Panel Nerds.

“Panel Nerds” is a regular column written by New York-based writers Danny Groner and Etan Bednarsh. We’ll provide you with a basic summary of discussions, a description of the atmosphere of these events, and some of our favorite moments – both from the speakers and the audience. If the speakers weren’t interesting or witty, we will be. If an audience member is inappropriate or overbearing — and there’s always at least one who is — we’ll tell you. We’ll even keep a running list of Panel Rules to make sure you don’t fall out of line.

We have attended a wide swath of panels. We’ve watched Dan Rather face off against 9/11 conspiracists, and followed along as they approached Jill Abramson on the street. We’ve seen Christopher Hitchens accuse someone else of being arrogant. We’ve witnessed Ira Glass getting literally backed into a corner by someone wishing to be the subject of a “This American Life” piece. We’ve watched Darren Star reluctantly accept the blame for turning New York City into a hot spot for tourists and shoppers. We’ve heard James Frey allude to secret audio tapes he has featuring Oprah apologizing to him. We’ve seen David Brooks seize control of a panel from the moderator. We’ve had Buzz Bissinger take our words of praise and use them to introduce himself at a panel. And we’ve seen Matt Taibbi duke it out with Republicans who wanted to debate the merits of the Vietnam War.

But we go to panels for much more than just the outrageous moments. We go to meet the people whose words we read and who shape our culture. We go to confirm that A.J. Jacobs is as genuine and Malcolm Gladwell as intellectually curious as their respective work implies. We go to learn that Gay Talese isn’t the person for a religious philosophy discussion, and that Stefan Fatsis doesn’t think kicking field goals has greater symbolism or meaning. We go to panels because, strangely enough, it’s a panel that brought us to Mediaite: We met Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol after a heated panel, and were invited to join them for the post-panel dinner (we also go to panels for the free food!). That’s how we came to join Mediaite. One wonders what column we’d be writing had that night’s post-panel discussion instead been with another panel member, Byron York.

The landscape of media and delivery of information seems to be in constant flux. Within that uncertainty, we’ve found a calm steadiness to seeing people in person and listening to their ideas and opinions. We’re eager to welcome you to the conversation.


Panel Nerds: Chuck Klosterman (June 22)
Panel Nerds: Bill Wasik (June 23)
Panel Nerds: David Carr & Ta-Nehisi Coates (July 6)

Etan Bednarsh is a writer and internet marketer in New York City . His writing focuses on the intersection of politics and pop culture. He is currently studying sketch and improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. Danny Groner is a freelance online writer and video editor in New York City. He has worked at several prominent media companies, dabbling in radio, television, and print and online journalism.

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