Check out Steve Marsh’s MSP Magazine piece on Jason DeRusha. (Really, read the whole thing!)

DeRusha is known as the Internet savant of local television news. This is repeated enough that it’s sort of annoying—just because he blogs in multiple venues, participates in the comment sections on other local blogs, and has a webcam set up at his desk, he’s the Internet Guy? He senses my annoyance.

“I feel like [my colleagues] think of me as some kind of reporter from 2050,” he says. And while this has helped him in some ways, it’s a brand most of his peers aren’t comfortable with.

“The media is afraid of interacting with the public in a way that everybody else is already doing,” DeRusha says. In the staid world of local television news, the notion of openly, brazenly bringing yourself and your opinions to the public—believed to only have the potential to cost you credibility and viewers—well, it’s different. And as we all know, different is Minnesotan for disdained.

As anybody who spends any time on the Internet knows, the scrutiny of the camera has intensified: There are a lot of haters out there, whether it’s on mnspeak.com or in CJ’s column. The membrane between media and media consumer is thinner than it’s ever been, and despite the easy grin and constant banter, DeRusha clearly feels it. In some part, I think that’s why he developed the “I’m kind of a big deal around here” shtick in the first place—personality guilt. (He was raised Catholic, after all.)

He may be a real egotist, but it’s framed by the self-deprecation of a guilty egotist—you’re not supposed to bring so much attention to yourself up here. This becomes sort of a feedback loop—he talks about himself, feels guilty about it, and then makes fun of himself for talking about himself. In fact, DeRusha seems to have worked out his own neat little cosmology, his own code, to help him make sense of this cycle: “I get a little defensive when people think that I’m a raging egotistical beast,” he says. “I don’t think that’s a fair description of who I am. Do I have a strong ego? . . . Yes. Is it bad to have a strong ego? . . . I don’t think so. Is it bad to be a jerk because you have a strong ego? Absolutely. Am I jerk? I don’t think so.”