New York Times
media reporter Brian Stelter may have coined new journalism jargon: “triangulation.” It’s the word he used to describe some of his reporting for a juicy new book about the morning news shows—reporting that brought him close to the emotional drama surrounding the firing of Ann Curry from the “Today” show.
Over the weekend, The New York Times Magazine
ran an excerpt from Stelter’s book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
,” which ended with his recounting of a lunch date between Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira.
“On April 3 they met for lunch around noon at Park Avenue Spring, an upscale restaurant on East 63rd Street. They swapped stories about their children and then, according to another diner, talked about work in hushed tones. Vieira urged Lauer to tough it out, promising that the bad press would subside. Dessert arrived at the table by 1 p.m., but they lingered until 1:40, bantering the way they used to on television. Lauer held the door for her as they walked outside, and she embraced him, rubbing his back reassuringly and saying in his ear, ‘It’ll be O. K.’”
How did Stelter, who is just 27 years old, learn these details? Who dropped a dime on Lauer and Vieira?
Stelter shed some light on his reporting technique in a tweet:
New York magazine writer Kevin Roos asked Stelter:
To which Stelter replied:
He even added:
In a blog post on Monday, Business Insider
went on to characterize Stelter’s actions as “eavesdropping.” Stelter told PR Daily
that wasn’t the case at all.
In an email to PR Daily
, Stelter writes: “I specifically did NOT eavesdrop. That was a word Business Insider
used, inaccurately. Eavesdropping would have been inappropriate.”
He reiterated that he was tipped off to the fact that Lauer and Vieira were dining together, so he went to the restaurant and “observed from afar.”
“What I wanted was ‘color,’ not quotable material,” he writes.
That's when Stelter started triangulating.
“I triangulated the topics of conversation afterward,” Stelter says. “I can't elaborate on who the sources were, because they were granted anonymity, but you can imagine there were only a few potential sources.”
Oh, we can imagine.
Was it the waiter? The busboy? The valet? A fellow diner? A consortium of daytime Deep Throats? Perhaps Matt and Ann themselves? Was Stelter the other “diner”?
It appears he’s determined to keep it a journalism mystery.
In any case, Stelter’s own paper gave the book a lackluster review
, calling it “a breezy read with more than a little overblown prose, some of it just plain silly.”