Shocker: Howard Kurtz Jumps From Washington Post to the Daily Beast

Tina Brown lures media veteran to become site’s Washington bureau chief

Shocking media job move here: Howard Kurtz is leaving the Washington Post to join the Daily Beast as Washington bureau chief.

He spent 29 years at the newspaper.

Kurtz, who hosts the weekly "Reliable Sources" on CNN, will continue to do so.

Big coup for the Beast, and a big loss for the Post.

"I’ve wanted to work with Tina Brown forever — well, for a long time," Kurtz said in a release. "After a lifetime in newspapers, I’m ready for the challenge of fast-paced online journalism.”

From that perspective, it makes sense — Kurtz has reliable a weekly TV platform on CNN, and sees his reportorial future online. But Kurtz's exit has nonetheless shocked the media world from Washington to New York, where he was the top trending topic on Twitter during the afternoon.

"Not many media stories surprise me," general manager and former Washington Post executive editor Jim Brady tweeted. "But this is a jaw-dropper."

Perhaps it shouldn't have been. Kurtz is the third highly-regarded print media veteran to be lured by a digital media siren in the last two months.

In September, Howard Fineman, Newsweek’s senior Washington correspondent, columnist and on-air analyst for NBC and MSNBC, jumped to the Huffington Post to become the site’s senior political editor.

“The digital world is where the action is in my line of work,” Fineman said last month.

Two days later, Peter Goodman, former New York Times national economic correspondent and current Sunday business section writer, announced he was heading to the Huffington Post, too, to serve as the site’s business and technology editor.

Ironically, Kurtz, who was once Goodman’s editor at the Washington Post, broke the news of the job change.

Kurtz said Tuesday that sees himself "as an online entrepreneur" and that "it can be harder to innovate while working for a big corporation that has an established way of doing things."

The Daily Beast's operation could become much larger soon. The Barry Diller-owned site is said to be in advanced discussions with Sidney Harman, Newsweek's new owner, about a potential partnership — though a deal is by no means guaranteed.

But who knows? In a few weeks, Kurtz could be Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, too/

Here's Brown's note:

The Daily Beast turns two tomorrow, and an early piece of birthday good news is that Howie Kurtz, who has won renown for his media and investigative reporting for The Washington Post and as host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, is joining The Daily Beast. As Washington Bureau Chief, he will lead our reporting in the capital and on the campaign trail. Howie knows that today the interaction of media and politics is the story. He combines integrity and rigorous reporting. He’s a tough and lively television presence, as I can attest, as can plenty of others. Our press release just issued on the great news is below.

Here's the press release:

New York, October 5th, 2010

The Daily Beast today announces that Howard Kurtz will join as Washington Bureau Chief. In this new role, Kurtz will oversee the two-year-old site’s coverage of Washington and will report and write regularly on politics, media, and the intersection of the two.

Kurtz, who won renown as a media and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, writes a must-read weekly media column and daily blog for the Post. He will continue to host the weekly CNN media program Reliable Sources—the longest-running media show on television. He is the author of five books, including The New York Times bestseller Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine. A 29-year veteran of The Washington Post, Kurtz previously covered Congress and the Justice Department and has also served as the paper’s New York Bureau Chief. He is a winner of the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism.

Tina Brown, editor in chief of The Daily Beast, said, “I have great respect for Howard as a journalist and newsbreaker, but I admire him most of all for his understanding of media and politics as the story of our era. He is that rare reporter with a metabolism that outpaces the frenetic subjects he covers. I am excited that he will be a driving force in The Daily Beast’s coverage of this upcoming midterm election and for many election cycles to come.”

Of his new role at The Daily Beast, Kurtz said, "I’ve wanted to work with Tina Brown forever—well, for a long time—and I’m incredibly impressed by the energy and creativity of The Daily Beast staff. After a lifetime in newspapers, I’m ready for the challenge of fast-paced online journalism.”

Daily Beast Executive Editor Edward Felsenthal said, “Howard is a top-tier news-breaker and reporter who, even in print, operates at an Internet pace. He brings to The Daily Beast a fabulous range that spans from the White House to Jon Stewart and George Clooney.”

With its fresh, arresting look, groundbreaking scoops, and award-winning commentary, The Daily Beast has emerged as one of the country’s most popular, influential news sites. Exactly two years old tomorrow, the site boasts an average of 4.5 million unique users and over 50 million page views each month, and was recently selected as one of Time magazine’s top 5 news websites of 2010.