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Wowie Howie: Who Will Replace Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post?

The search is on for a new media columnist; here’s a shortlist of candidates

Howard Kurtz's jump from the Washington Post to the Daily Beast on Tuesday left most the media-on-media world stunned — and the newspaper with a big hole to fill.

Here's part of the Post's internal memo, via the Upshot:

With Howie's departure we will begin searching for his replacement, looking for someone who can be a commanding authority on the media. We're seeking a lively, nuanced writer with drive and enthusiasm, and the ability to keep ahead of the changing media world and its impact on politics.

And just who might fill that role?

Here's a reliable (sorry) shortlist of names for the Post to chew on:

Michael Calderone
Reporter and blogger, Yahoo's Upshot
Rationale:
Calderone, who prior to the Upshot spent a couple years covering media for Politico, would be great choice for the job — he's in D.C., and has been covering much of the same ground as Kurtz — at the intersection of politics and media. But Calderone might not want to leave Yahoo so quickly — he joined Yahoo in April, and the Upshot was launched in July.

Gabriel Sherman
Contributing editor, New York magazine; special correspondent, New Republic
Rationale:
Sherman's name has been mentioned at least twice today — with the Washingtonian and National Journal’s Matt Cooper name-checking him on their own shortlists. That alone probably makes Sherman the early front-runner, should the Post hire from outside its own talent pool.

Ezra Klein
Blogger, Washington Post

Rationale: Klein has intimate knowledge of D.C.'s clubby, inside-the-beltway media scene, having run the now-infamous “Journolist,” you know, the listserv-thingy that got current Slate scribe and former WaPo columnist Dave Weigel fired. If the Post decides to hire from within, Klein would be a solid choice.

Matt Cooper
Managing editor, National Journal
Rationale:
Cooper’s resume reads like a who’s who of D.C. media heavyweights — The New Republic, Atlantic, TPM, Washington Monthly, Time, Newsweek, Portfolio — so he’s probably assured of at least a phone call from WaPo executive editor Marcus Brauchli. But the National Journal’s aggressive approach to hiring means they’ll probably be just as aggressive in shielding their new staffers from competing job offers.

Jack Shafer
Press Box editor and media critic, Slate
Rationale:
Another fantastic choice — like Kurtz, Shafer’s one of the most well-read media critics in the business. And he’s a far more “commanding authority” than Kurtz, I’d argue. But would he even want to leave the digital side of the Washington Post Company to battle over column inches? Perhaps not.

Ana Marie Cox
Washington correspondent, GQ
Rationale:
There are plenty of people, Cox included, who would love to see it. But it probably won’t happen. The GQ contributor and former Wonkette, Time magazine and Radar writer has become an in-demand political pundit, occasionally subbing for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. “Newspaper columnist” would almost be a step backward at this point.

Alex Pareene
War Room blogger, Salon
Rationale:
The former Wonkette and Gawker star recently left to anchor Salon’s political coverage. And he’s certainly livelier than Kurtz (Pareene called Kurtz “pathologically neutral” in his own report on the job change). But, much like Calderone, Pareene really just got there.

Rachel Sklar
Editor-at-large, Mediaite
Rationale:
Sklar, former Huffington Post blogger and current editor-at-large for Dan Abrams’ media site, will be mentioned in any high-profile media-on-media job discussion. And rightfully so. But would she be able to devote the serious reporting time the Post is apparently looking for with her various other interests, like her charitable Charitini? Something tells me no.

Tom Scocca
Blogger, Slate
Rationale:
Scocca, a former New York Observer media editor, is a great writer, but might not be into the non-stop beat reporting, either. His Slate blog covers a range of topics — “politics, sports, media, stuff” — much wider the media beat.

Keach Hagey
Media reporter, Politico
Rationale:
Hagey, the former Village Voice media columnist, took Calderone’s spot at Politico when he decamped for Yahoo. She’s a fine reporter, and would make a good candidate, though it depends how much experience the Post is looking for.

Jon Friedman
Media columnist, Marketwatch
Rationale:
The veteran Friedman, who has spent 11 years as a columnist at Marketwatch, could slide right in for Kurtz without missing much of a beat. But would Friedman want to move from New York?

Jeff Bercovici
Media reporter, Forbes
Rationale:
Bercovici’s covered the media for Ad Age, Portolio and Radar, among others. If he hadn’t just been hired away from AOL by Forbes, Bercovici — who’s become something of a hired gun in the media space — would’ve fit the bill nicely.

Ken Layne
Editor-in-chief, Wonkette
Rationale:
Like Cox, there are a lot of people who would love to see Layne in a position with this much profile. But the Post — if they want to keep even some continuity between Kurtz and his successor — won’t go there.

Rick Sanchez
Former host, CNN
Rationale:
Kidding! Kidding!