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Mediaite Presents the 15 Most Influential Media Reporters 2017 (And Most Overrated)

A free press is among the most important pillars of what has made these United States truly exceptional. With debate raging about the current role of the media  in political discourse, the true guardians of the Fourth Estate are sometimes the intrepid reporters who cover the media itself.

As we know all too well here at Mediaite, a media entity reporting on others in the media business can be tricky. Particularly at time when the intersection of media and politics is taking center stage, the reporting and reporters, have become more influential than ever. We also know that many in the media business despise being judged by others (though they will readily judge others), but that’s where we come in. So here we present our list of

The 15 most Influential Media Reporters for 2017

 

  • Gabriel Sherman

  • Marisa Guthrie

  • Brian Stelter

  • Eric Deggans

  • Erik Wemple

  • Jim Rutenberg

  • Claire Atkinson

  • Richard Deitsch

  • Emily Smith

  • Joe Concha

  • Joe Pompeo

  • Hadas Gold

  • John Oliver

  • Betsy Rothstein

  • Dylan Byers

  • The New York magazine star did some of the finest reporting, not just on the media beat, but on any beat in America over the past year. While some challenged the accuracy of his reporting in the past and at times fairly so, there is simply no question that his reporting on the sexual harassment allegations at Fox News has been consistently outstanding. His sources inside the network and its parent company are unrivaled and by the end he seem to hit the center of the dartboard every time. When he stepped out on a limb to report that Bill O'Reilly was on the chopping block, his reporting was born out when the network announced it was severing ties with their longtime 8:00 p.m. star. Quite simply, this guy has become one of the best in the business.

  • Over the past few years, The Hollywood Reporter's scope of entertainment industry coverage aggressively grew to include the cable news sausage-making factory, and no entertainment writer was more on top of dramatic ups and downs of the last year than Marissa Guthrie. From executive shifts at Fox News to digital plays at CNN, Guthrie consistently demonstrates everything you want in a media reporter: hard work and hustle, the independence to not be labeled a favored lap dog to any outlet, and the courage to fairly criticize her subjects in a thoughtful manner that doesn't sour relationships with her sources.

  • Eric Deggans has served as NPR’s TV critic since 2013, when he arrived at the broadcast service after putting in nearly two decades as a media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. He is perhaps the foremost expert on the relationship between the media and race — he penned the fantastic 2012 book “Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation” — at a time when such issues are at the forefront of the national conversation. His compelling writing and strong wit provides probing and insightful look inside the world of both entertainment television and cable news in the age of the reality TV president.

  • The Washington Post’s resident media reporter Erik Wemple doles out a must-read daily column dissecting the fascinating and increasingly complex web of political and media coverage. He has used his blog to fearlessly and saliently pierce through the haze surrounding Sean Spicer’s confounding communications shop, all while keeping a watchful eye on cable networks, most notably Fox News. His coverage of the network was so persistent that anchor Tucker Carlson went after him on his show in what turned out to be a memorable showdown over media criticism. Despite Carlson’s charges, Wemple provides not only sharp criticism of the press, from cable news to print publications, he also remains a fair critic of The Washington Post’s own reporting. At a time when conspiracy and fake news threatens to infect the media landscape, Wemple’s blog provides a vital public service: sorting real news from fiction.

  • In the dystopian era of viral memes and fake news that is our new reality, more than a mention is worthy of a traditional media lion like Jim Rutenberg. Working his way up from a Daily News gossip stringer to venerable Grey Lady media columnist, Rutenberg has now become an institution — and for good reason. In the Trump era, he has offered insights on just about every subject of media consequence, from Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones disaster, the legacy of Roger Ailes, and the trials of Sean Spicer. When Rutenberg speaks people listen and we expect that it will remain that way for some time to come.

  • The NY Post is a terrifically fun read for a variety of reasons -- clever cover lines, sports reports and Page Six gossip -- but people in the media know that the NY Post also has terrific media coverage, perhaps best exemplified by Ms. Atkinson. Her beat includes coverage of an interesting mix of Hollywood, Network and cable news and how technology influences all of the above.

  • Covering sports media means covering ESPN. And no one has done it better of late than this superb Sports Illustrated writer. Deitsch has been all over several major stories at the "Worldwide Leader" in recent months, including; the breakup of prolific sports radio duo Mike & Mike, and the mass layoffs at the network which resulted in a number of high-profile personalities being let go. With the network in the midst of a tumultuous time as they battle declining revenues while being locked into expensive rights deals, Deitsch has made himself a go-to source on all things ESPN.

  • The election of President Donald Trump ushered in a wildly unanticipated relevance of the old-school gossip pages. Trump rose to fame out of the waters of The New York Post’s Page Six, so it should be no surprise that its editor, Emily Smith, is a must-read for Empire State-based reports in the Trump era — whether it’s chronicling who is walking into Trump Tower or scooping the rest of the press on the contentious meeting between the president and New York City media execs. Smith cut her teeth on Fleet Street, rising in the ranks at the notoriously salacious Sun newspaper, before taking the helm at the Post’s gossip flagship. Armed with an ear to the ground and a deep well of sources inside the the New York media scene, Smith is breaking as many media stories as anyone and is a force to be reckoned with in the current political climate with context.

  • This Mediaite alum is getting no preferential treatment from us in being given a spot on our list. The Hill's star would merit inclusion even if he hadn't spent nearly four years with us. His sharp, often right of center takes have made him a Fox News favorite. It seems like seldom does a night go by without a Joe Concha appearance with either Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity -- and that is a good thing. His is a measured, reasoned and now important voice on the media beat.

  • Joe Pompeo's CV reads exactly like you'd want a NY-based media reporter to read: Observer, Business Insider, CapitalNY, Politico, and coming soon, Vanity Fair.  Pompeo's exhaustive coverage of nearly every facet of the New York media beat was condensed daily into the Politico Media newsletter that not only informed readers, but also entertained its audience with fun asides and regular indie rock recommendations that felt earnest instead of pretentious as pop culture recommendations so often can feel. Pompeo's new role is senior media correspondent for The Hive, the publication’s tech, media and politics site and where we can only hope he will continue to inspire and lead.

  • The tough as nails Politico media reporter — and scoop machine — is a rising force to be reckoned with. We at Mediaite cannot begin to recall how often her Twitter feed has sent us scrambling to our phones and keyboards. It was she who brought us word that President Trump's first interview as President Elect would be with 60 Minutes and when HuffPo removed that insufferable "Trump's a racist" stuff — she was on it also. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if she soon outgrew Politico itself for greener pastures.

  • A big hole was created when media observations of Jon Stewart went away when he left The Daily Show, but former TDS reporter John Oliver has done a terrific job filling those size 8 shoes. While he doesn't always rail on cable news absurdity and over-the-top hyperbole, when he does it almost always drives the narrative.

  • If there is one word that could be used to describe The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein, it would be this – fearless. After bursting on to the scene in 2009, she quickly became the scourge of the Washington media. As the editor of the gossip site Fishbowl DC, Rothstein would shine a light on the underbelly of the Beltway press. She became a must-read for those in the media, largely because they wanted to see if they were that day’s target. She’s continued her undaunted media reporting since joining The DC, generally taking no prisoners with her blog The Mirror. Focusing on the latest absurdities and controversies bubbling up within the self-obsessed media world, Rothstein proves with each piece she writes that she doesn’t care whether her subjects like her or not. Which, in the end, makes The Mirror a truly fascinating read.

  • Being a representative of "FAKE NEWS!" central might be worthy enough of a reason to be included in this list. Byers contributions, however, have long transcended merely that. While Donald Trump was on the hunt for President Obama's birth certificate, Byers made a name for himself on Politico's On Media blog where his reporting chops were readily apparent. And while there's been a questionable take or two, he has shown himself to be unafraid of the alt right sharks out for MSM blood daily. Byers has become a brand that could eventually lead him to outgrow his role as a member of Stelter's team but for now his professionalism and reportorial prowess has been a credit to the network.

 

 

Science has proven that the pendulum of media accolades cannot exist without a swing back in the other direction, so without further ado…

The Most Overrated Media Reporters for 2017

  • Bob Garfield

  • Jack Shafer

  • Gabe Sherman

  • Avid listeners of NPR will recognize the dulcet baritone of Mr. Garfiled as the co-host of WNYC produced "On the Media.” You know who else seems to love that very dulcet baritone? Mr. ​Bob ​Garfield. On a show that is often “not-quite” as interesting as one hopes it would be, Mr. Garfield’s banal and often boring takes bring down the clever editorial work of his co-host Brooke Gladstone.

  • If the ability to turn a clever phrase was the only metric by which we judged ​m​edia ​r​eporters, Jack Shafer would be ​one of the top media critic dogs. When it comes to reporting news and influencing a larger journalistic narrative, however, the ​now ​Politico media reporter ​really often seems to add little more than that to the national conversation​. Perhaps he’s burdened by the standards that come with the sacred cow status he seems to have earned ​from​ a younger generation​ who idolize the peripatetic​ editor/reporter. Or maybe its all relative, but at a time when media reporters have become more relevant than ever, Shafer appears headed in just the opposite direction.

  • Astute readers of this post will note that, yes, Gabe Sherman is included in both ​m​ost ​i​nfluential and ​overrated ​galleries. How can that be? Well if all that Sherman reported ​was his coverage of the demise of Fox News from the past year or so, ​then he would have no reason to be here. But as Mediaite has reported and many sharp media observers know, Sherman has some great sources and some less than great sources. He mostly gets it right these days, but has gotten enough wrong over the past few years that the praise regularly heaped on his reporting (including by many here at Mediaite) is over the top and ought to be far more restrained. If he helped bring down executives and anchors at MSNBC or CNN, would he be as much of a media darling? Just asking.

 

 

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