Howard Kurtz is not only the dean of American media critics, but he has “walked the talk” of his obsession with media. He is a multi-platform juggler, having been in print at the Washington Post for nearly three decades, hosting CNN’s weekend show, “Reliable Sources,” and writing the Media Notes blog for Washingtonpost.com for 10 years. And he even does a weekly live Q&A chat with his audience.
But Kurtz announced his boldest move yet, leaving behind the Washington Post for Tina Brown’s online-only Daily Beast, a two-year-old money-losing operation. Publicly Kurtz said he was enticed by the prospect of working with Brown, and helping to shape a startup. Is this Round 2 of “old media types going to startups” as we experienced back in the dot-com boom (see: CNN anchor Lou Dobbs quits to join Space.com)?
Not exactly. But there is a shift of talent going from legacy media toward the newer upstarts, and Kurtz finds himself right in the middle of one of the biggest online media tussles — between Daily Beast’s Brown and Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington, if you believe a snarky article in the Guardian. While Kurtz told me in a Q&A over Twitter that Brown did entice him, and he was drawn to the idea of doing more experimental versions of journalism online, he said he was “agnostic” about a possible Newsweek-Daily Beast merger.
Even today, the Wall Street Journal reported that those merger talks were pretty far along, with the main obstacle being an issue of who would control Newsweek. While Kurtz wouldn’t comment on the possible tie-up, it would bring him back into the world of print — right after leaving it behind. Below is my entire Q&A with Kurtz on Twitter.
What do you think about Kurtz leaving the Post for the Daily Beast? Is it worth the risk of leaving an established name brand for a startup? How much staying power do you think the Beast has? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.