Shoptalk: A History Lesson

The parent company of the website TVNewser has announced it is buying, which brings an end to a colorful sidebar in TV News history. Perhaps you could say it died with Don Fitzpatrick, the legendary consultant who founded the industry newsletter as Shoptalk, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people still communicated mostly by phone and fax machine. News directors in the 1980s  received their daily dose of industry gossip by fax, and copies were furtively passed around to those “in the know.” Shoptalk reflected the freewheeling atmosphere of TV newsrooms in those days and included juicy speculation about affairs in and out of the newsroom. Such antics led to threats of legal action, so the site tamed down as it became a daily email “must-read” for the  masses toiling in news cubicles with all the charm and color of an insurance office. Nowadays it offers little more than a roundup of stories about TV News, as it is covered by other media. A much better site is, edited by Tom Petner who almost managed to revive TVSpy before it slipped into irrelevance,  its “watercooler” chat board dominated by a few nobodies hurling lame insults mostly at each other. RIP Shoptalk. It was fun while it lasted.