5 Questions for Scott Nover, the GW Student Who’s Launching a New Website Covering Media

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Media-industry junkies who aren’t fulfilled by the combined resources of Politico, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Poynter Institute, and CNN’s Reliable Sources will have one more source to obsess over next Monday with the launch of MediaFile. But unlike those venerable titles, this new outfit is being led by Scott Nover, a 21-year-old senior at George Washington University who’s put together a team of student journalists who want to cover the industry whose professional ranks they aspire to.

It’s not an entirely new phenomenon: Brian Stelter, now the host of Reliable Sources, rose to attention by creating the TVNewser blog from his dorm room at Towson University. But Nover says he’s going for something far less gossipy than the scuttlebutt at network news divisions. He says his roughly 30 editors and writers will prioritize “quality over quantity” in their reporting, which will be published online Mondays and Thursdays—though there may be breaking stuff in between—and will tackle national and international media.

But of all the things a newbie journalist could cover, why dive headlong into his own trade? “I think it’s moving so quickly,” Nover says. “It’s so dynamic, and every day there’s way more stories being covered.” Here are five more questions for Nover:

What’s the idea behind a big team of students launching a publication that just covers other media?

I wanted to create a platform for students getting their feet wet in media reporting. There’s a lot of really great media stories going on in the DC area and the industry as a whole. And the entire field of media reporters is not that huge anyway. I believe there’s a lot of untold stories. We’ve got a politics section, which is going to be a lot of DC stuff and election coverage. Candiates’ press policies, treatment of reporters, that kind of stuff. We also have an international section. All of the international reporters based out of DC, what are the big stories going on in media out in the world, whether it be at Rio—we’re doing some Olympics stories about photography—and we’ve got a tech section tracking new developments in technology and media.

That’s a pretty big scope.

Any media story is fair game for us, but we’re definitely going to place a focus on DC, just ‘cause that’s where we are. I think the entire community of people who write about media is probably around 100 people. Compared to other beats that’s not that big. We might see all the political stories, but what’s actually happening in international media that we’re missing? What new technology is being used to convey information in Africa? What’s the Guardian doing with branded podcasts?

You’re going into your senior year. Is this a one-year project or can it survive past you?

It’s a one-year project for me, but I’m hoping it becomes a fixture of the community and I’m hoping others can take it on after me and my team go. That’s really the goal. I’m pretty confident we can make this thrive this year, but the mark of a good publication is something that can be bigger than one person and serve a community longterm.

You told Poynter that since American Journalism Review shut down last year, “there are no outlets completely dedicated to media news and media criticism in the DC area.” Can we expect some scholarly analysis from MediaFile?

I think there’s a void we can fill. We’re going to do more straight reporting than pure criticism. We have an opinion section and we’ll do some analyses. But there’s definitely a void and there’s something to say there isn’t a publication completely devoted to media reporting in one of the biggest media hotspots in the world.

Does that mean you’re going to report on Washingtonian?

Yeah, sure. I think everything’s fair game. Have any scoops for me?

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.