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A personal note

I've just discovered what it is like to become a media metaphor.

My announcement that I'm leaving The Washington Post after 29 years to join the Daily Beast, the two-year-old Web site founded by Tina Brown, triggered all sorts of coverage. And I have to think that much of it was based on the notion that this symbolized a shift in the media world, from print to pixels.

First and foremost, this was a difficult decision because I love The Post and it will always have a place in my heart. Even in an era of diminishing resources, it remains a great newspaper.

But as I've spent more of my time in the digital world, the lure of helping shape something new became irresistible. As Washington bureau chief, I'll be overseeing and eventually expanding the Beast's presence in the capital while also reporting, writing, blogging and of course tweeting.

And yes, for those who have asked, I'll still be hosting CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sundays.

I appreciate the outpouring of good wishes. But I'm not the first journalist to make such a shift. I've written about some of the others -- Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Peter Goodman of the New York Times joining the Huffington Post, for example. And Tina Brown herself, once the editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.

Reporters instinctively look for the larger angle, so several asked me what this meant for the death of print or the decline of The Post. I pushed back, as I happen to believe that newspapers are going to be around for a long time. Let's not get carried away here. A major metropolitan daily like The Post is far bigger than any staffer.

Still, there's an awful lot of energy and excitement in the Web world. I could not have imagined doing this five years ago, as a guy who just plain likes paper. So a significant shift is underway. Somehow, I became a trending topic on Twitter -- and without even popping off, Rick Sanchez-style.

Of course, metaphors are like meteors, streaking across the sky. Within a few hours of Tuesday's announcement, a Politico reporter told me she was working on a second-day story. And by late afternoon, media columnists were already drawing up lists of who might replace me at The Post.

I was old news, just like that.

By Howard Kurtz  | October 6, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories, Top story  | Tags:  Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz, Tina Brown, Washington Post, Web, media  
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Next: Rick Sanchez is sorry. Really.

Comments

In a Washington Post whose reporters and Editorial Board members increasingly lean to the left, Howard Kurtz was the rare balanced voice. His departure is just one more reason why moderates and conservatives need not read the Post every day.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 6, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

What in the world does Washington Dame mean when she says the Post's editorial board members increasingly lean to the left? Have you forgotten how Fred Hiatt and crew beat the drums for the invasion of Iraq? And have you looked at the op-ed bylines lately? Gerson. Will. Krauthammer. Thiessen. Yeesh! You wouldn't know what "left" was if Eugene Debs came back from the dead and gave you a 2-day seminar.

Posted by: jhpurdy | October 6, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

It isn't as if Howard Kurtz announced that he was leaving journalism. I wish him luck in this new endeavor--this is an exciting time for journalists.

Posted by: alc0f7 | October 6, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I read Kurtz more than any other at the Post, liked how he provided some balance with his roundups of punditry on the hot issues... I'll still read the Post, but I'll be checking out the Daily Beast now too.

Posted by: Areopagus | October 6, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I just want to congratulate Howard Kurtz. He is the very rare individual who really seemed non bias in his reporting. I hope it works well for you.

Posted by: niceday971 | October 6, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Good riddance. This bore has done more for false equivalencies between sides of a story and stories themselves than any other hack at the Post.

Posted by: klondie30 | October 6, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

jhpurdy,

You obviously have no idea which columnists are on the Post's Editorial Board. Gerson, Will, and Krauthamer DO NOT sit on the Post's Editorial Board. Will and Krauthamer are, in fact, syndicated columnists, who are not even Post employees. The paper simply includes their columns, like loads of other papers do.

Get your facts straight because you're just making a fool of yourself.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 6, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

(a) I bet Howard feels a little foolish for not taking one of the many Post buy-outs. (b) To WashingtonDame: If you think the Post Editorial Board leans left, despite the fact that it is headed by Fred Hiatt, endorsed the invasion of Iraq, etc, etc, then you are certainly the fool.

Posted by: Dan4 | October 6, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks, Howie; I have read your column for years and appreciated the common sense you espoused, which transcended the bland, partisan complaining that typifies most columns. Reading your columns on journalism was a lesson in the intersection of ethics and the science of reporting.

I remember around eight or nine years ago your enthusiastic championing of blogs as part of the changing face of political discourse (perhaps you were doing that even earlier). This was something that clearly gripped you, and so it is not a surprise to find you making this career change. (It's amusing that the trolls on the Post's web pages are the product of a form of media discourse you yourself prominently championed so early on. :-) )

Good luck with the future; looks like I'll have to bookmark da Beast, now. :-D

Posted by: kingpigeon | October 6, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Washingtondame is one of those diehard Limbaugh conservatives who live and breathe by the comforting myths peddled by that old has been. I have been around for a long time and I remember the days when the media really was liberal. Agnew--athough a crook himself--did get it right back in the 70s when he complained about the President's 26 million audience being inherited after his every address by a roundtable of left wing critics.

But look at that roundtable today and you will find that it is heavily tilted toward the corporate conservative viewpoint. Conservatives like Limbaugh--and one of his devoted haunch smoochers Washingtondame--cling to this myth because it offers an easy crutch, a convenient pacifier when the suffer the indignity of defeat. In their world, conservatives never really lose an election. They get robbed and most of the time it is because of the liberal media. It makes them feel better to believe that comforting canard.

Posted by: jaxas70 | October 6, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Washington Dame, I can certainly understand why JHPurdy's vaporization of your ridiculous posting would get under your skin. But your snippy response just underscores how willing to distort the facts you are. (He never said Will and Krauthammer sit on the Post's editorial board, for starters).

For all your sputtering, you didn't succeed in rebutting a single point he made. All you've done is make clear who needs to get the facts straight (hint: It isn't Purdy!).

Posted by: DCSteve1 | October 6, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Before you move on Howie, just one question: What the (heck) does, "I became a trending topic on Twitter" mean???

Signed,
BGen. Laughingsnot Puffworthington (Mrs.)

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | October 6, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

You're leaving Kay Graham's Post to work for the woman who introduced the F bomb to The New Yorker.

Classy.

Posted by: mattintx | October 6, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

so why can't the Post be a web provider of news and not a "paper?" If they're failing as a "paper," just stop printing. I haven't bought a hard copy in years.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | October 6, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

To second jhpurdy,
the Post has been anti-union, especially since the 1970's pressroom strike and shutdown.

Go back and read the anti union editorials from the early 1980s. There was a great juxtaposition of the Post editorials on American unions versus Polish union that appeared in PressClips of the Village Voice.

And nowadays, Fred Hiatt and Jo-Ann Armao carry the tradition forward attacking teacher unions as the sole reason for the poor performance of public schools and even potholes.

Posted by: edlharris | October 6, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Kurtz won't be missed--he mainly focused on non-news stories, television "personalities" whose main job is reading news gathered by other people on television, lame stories, and other bits and pieces. He rarely delved deep into the real hard-news media issues of the day, and he avoided many daily-news media stories. His insistance on focusing on lame, non-news TV types was just lazy. For real media news, you have to generally go elsewhere--The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Editor and Pubisher, and the actual media-specific publications that cover the industry every day and report daily hard-news about the media every day. Those media-specific entities are the real hard-news media sources. As for any so-called "shifts"--there's no "shift" of anything, anywhere, anyhow. Newspapers--the hard copy versions--remain, today, in October, 2010, the real foundation and bedrock of daily news journalism. Newsapers, the hard copy editions, also remain the primary revenue-generator in print journalism. Most web sites lose money or get by on generaous donations from fat-cats; most of them do not turn a profit. As for newspaper websites--most of them are just terrible, horrible, non-user-friendly, composed of cluttered lists, and poorly-designed. Newspapers remain the foundation of daily journalism in the U.S., and worldwide.

Posted by: thefrontpage | October 6, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame:
You are the one who is not getting the facts straight. All of the Post's op-ed columnists are syndicated by the Washington Post Writer's Group -- i.e., they are Post employees. The Post does not merely carry their columns; it owns and distributes them to other papers. And for all the usual suspects who are always accusing the Post of lefty bias, try finding anybody who writes for the Washington Times -- does it still exist? -- who isn't a conservative. The Post's editorial and op-ed pages are much more "balanced" than a lot of other papers'. Of course, to conservatives like the ones who rag on the Post in these comments all the time, anybody who doesn't agree with their narrow-minded views is a crazy leftist. "Moderates and conservatives" like yourself should just stick to FoxNews, the Wall St. Journal editorial pages, and the other echo chambers that are obviously more to your liking.

Posted by: Donzinho | October 6, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Howie has taught me many things...The New York Times and MSNBC in the evenings are the mother load of liberal media bias..MSNBC's liberal bias in the evenings is equivalent to Fox News' 24x7 infomercial for the Fox Party..It's not the media's role to discern truth but to make sure all sides of an issue are given equal airing..It's up to the audience to find truth....Rush Limbaugh has free reign and no limits to personally vilify his enemies because he is an entertainer but Howie said Wanda Sykes the entertainer had to apologize to Limbaugh for giving it back to him..As the country teetered on economic collapse at the end of the Bush debacle, Howie criticized the media for being to easy on Obama during the election...Howie continues to profess the tired notion of liberal bias in the media when most of the so-called liberal MSM is cowed and intimidated by the right-wing echo chamber...And finally, as a media critic, Howie cant't hold Jon Stewart's jockstrap...So long Howie...

Posted by: tsorren | October 6, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Just read one poster here saying that the liberal mainstream media is "cowed." Not so I've noticed. Read Newsweek lately?

Best of luck to you, Howard Kurtz, you will be missed.
- - - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job, Crime and Eco Sanity.

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | October 6, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I am disappointed to see Howie's column go. It was a convenient place to get a quick compendium of different papers views on current events. I hope WAPO gets another reporter to review the media.

Posted by: sportsfan2 | October 6, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to miss your column. I liked the older approach better than the newer, single topic style because it allowed me easily see the play a major story was getting across the Nation. Even so, your column remained on my must read list.

I find it interesting that we all like to focus on the medium rather than the underlying reason that drives us to create the message. The need of people to have information and the approach that reporters use to satisfy it, is the same today as it was when Ben Franklin was doing it. It will remain so as long as humankind exists. It's the skill set used to gather the facts, process a story and then distribute it that has changed.

This change is rooted in advancing technology and requires us to update our skill sets and mind sets to meet the need. Some of the notable milestone along the way are Mr.Gutenberg's press, Mr. Bell's telephone, and Mr. Gore's (LOL) internet.

What makes all this truly important, is that this evolution of technology brings more information to the people faster, and allows for their input to be added. Information is power and the impact of this change on how it flows and is used will be enormous. I believe we are at the beginning in a peaceful revolution that leads to true democracy.

So Mr. Kurtz, congratulations on your new position and your willingness to take a risk that will further this revolution-- and thank you for your work in making our profession better.

Posted by: t_a_forrester | October 6, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Every media outlet needs a "media analysis" writer; too few have them.

Posted by: foldingtime | October 6, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Your comments in the Post consistently reflected an impartiality that is rare in today's media. Your opinion on so many things made me search out your byline first when opening the Washington Post website. As a "Beast" reader since its inception, I look forward to your new assignment with relish and anticipation. Good luck!

Posted by: vicsoir1 | October 6, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Kurtz bought into the tired "liberal media" line far more than the facts would warrant, but overall I'm still sorry to see him go. I only hope that the Post doesn't replace him with another full-time American Idol critic, but that seems to be the direction in which the Style section is heading.

Posted by: andym108 | October 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

A sad day for the Post, as Kurtz is one of the main reasons I visit the site. Interesting the comes in the same week I decided to buy a Kindle. What is the world coming to?


Posted by: bobskis | October 6, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I love reading all the comments on how impartial and unbiased Howard was. Those people must feel this paper and its Editorial page match that same high standard.

This column were generally superficial and showed little original thought and analysis. It was enamored with celebrating celebrity and pimping what was ruling the air and electronic media. It wanted to be relevant and topical more than anything.

With the tremendously important role the media has in shaping public opinion he was especially careful never to bring Fox News to task for their extreme bias and inaccuracy in reporting. He rather could find many ways to defend them and confuse the matter further.


For these and many other reasons I think we can only go up with a new media reporter. WAPO pick carefully and thoughtfully.

Posted by: BobSanderson | October 6, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I found out your column during the Florida stand-off between Bush&Gore, almost 10 years ago...Since then I´ve been reading it daily and, as an argentine citizen, it made me understand a lot of american politics. So, I will certainly miss it from now on. The best luck to you.

Posted by: arcavi9 | October 6, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

What is commenter WashingtonDame smoking? The Post "leaning to the left"? Hah! As near as I can tell, after fairly broad sampling, the Toronto Star is almost the only MSM print outlet left in North America that can legitimately be called "left." I guess maybe he/she means left of the Tea Party.

Posted by: bobskis | October 6, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't know wether this post will be published or not byt I really want Mr. Kurtz to receive it.
I must be one of your strangest reader: A spaniard living in northwestern Spain with english as a second language. It has been a pleasure to read your pieces. I really appreciated your balance and common sense.
I wish you the best in your new job.

Posted by: Pasaxe | October 6, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"as a guy who just plain likes paper"

Couldn't describe you better myself, Howie. You love the dollars more than anything. Take your shill act elsewhere, ace reporter.

Posted by: adamnescot1 | October 6, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame is a troll on numerous DC area blogs and not worth getting bogged down to refute. Kurtz is the epitome of how shallow and insular the Post has become. His wife is a rightwing flack and his analysis often seems informed by wingnut talking points and GOP Hill staffers. He has multiple conflicts of interest (rarely disclosed). Like much of the paper, he is increasingly irrelevant. his main value is as an indicator of Beltway media conventional wisdome and little else.

Posted by: thebuckguy | October 6, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I always read media Notes and will miss Howie's little comments at the end of each bit.

Posted by: FLvet | October 6, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I am going to miss Kurtz's column because I liked to go there and read the absolutely dumbest things. It cheered me up. He never really addressed real media issues -- it was more like promoting over-coverage of an event complaining how much coverage it was getting. Kind of like how 2 wrongs don't make a right. Then, of course, he was/is just an apologist for dumba$$ reporting.

Posted by: aevans11 | October 6, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Howard Kurtz has been my favorite Post columnist for a long time. His departure is a blow to the Post. I sincerely hope that the newspaper replaces him with someone of equal evenhandedness and thoughtfulness.

Posted by: GSS1 | October 6, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse


WaPo lost ten percent of its circulation last year. It sold off Newsweek for one dollar (which is what it was worth). WaPo is sinking and going to go out of business.

Kurtz was canny enough to leave while the getting is good.

Posted by: screwjob21 | October 6, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I entirely agree and second the posting by "thebuckguy." Kurtz's mumblings were not worth spending any time reading, as all he wrote were just banality, with a celebrity-worshipping bent: zero wisdom!

Posted by: fgominho | October 6, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess the Post no longer has to punt every time someone asks about Howie covering the media and taking a paycheck from CNN at the same time.

They never could quite explain this obvious conflict of interest so they just let it slide. And then he left.

Posted by: UrbanShocker | October 6, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"Of course, metaphors are like meteors, streaking across the sky."

Except in this case, the metaphor is a simile...

All the best in your new role!

Posted by: grammargirl | October 6, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

We'll miss you.

Posted by: fitzroysq | October 6, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Get back to work.

Posted by: blasmaic | October 7, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Way to go, Howard! One has to grow and change at the very least to confirm that life still exists. At age 52, and after 30 years as an RN, I just graduated with a Masters degree to become a nurse practitioner. We need to feel challenged and not stale!

Posted by: elderquest | October 7, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Howard it was time to go. Trust me.

You have consistently tried to look thorough while avoiding any of the tough issues a real reporter would have dealt with honestly. You were a closet Republican partisan always couching your POV in what you tried to make look like logical hard hitting questions. Why were they almost always asked persistently to only one side?

Your protection and support for News Corps was the most egregious mistake you made in these times of crisis for our country. They are responsible for much of the disinformation that is driving our politics to the darker side of our national character (and they are making a big profit doing it). What is not to like?

I am happy to see you move on to a vehicle that lives on what is popular, like yourself.

Posted by: mariewilson11 | October 7, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Now you won't have to pretend your a real reporters anymore

Posted by: jpalm32 | October 8, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

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