VandeHarris: The WSJ’s Take

The WSJ’s Sarah Ellison writes up the VandeHarris move in today’s paper (sub. req.).

Some excerpts:

    Two prominent Washington Post political reporters are leaving the newspaper to join a new Web-focused venture, underscoring how new media is stealing talent from some of the most venerable brands in journalism. …

    “We’ve had long conversations over beers about what’s next in journalism and what’s possible on the Web for some time,” said Mr. Harris, 43 years old.

    Allbritton approached Mr. VandeHei, 35, shortly before the election, Mr. Harris said, but discussions didn’t get serious until after both men were finished handling the Post’s election coverage. Allbritton executives were originally looking for someone to fill the top editing post of the Capitol Leader but Mr. VandeHei told them the only way to get top talent would be to pursue a more ambitious idea of using the Web more aggressively.

    “They were intrigued by our idea of using the Web and the notion of covering politics in a nontraditional way,” said Mr. Harris, who is also the author of a biography of Bill Clinton.

    Mr. VandeHei, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, said he hoped that the venture would knock down some of traditional journalism’s “state secrets,” such as how stories get leaked and whose motives are served by certain political stories.

On the subject of whether recent moves by VandeHarris, Mike Allen, David Von Drehle and Mark Leibovich suggest something, “Phil Bennett, the managing editor of the Post, said, ‘I don’t see a relationship between these departures, each one of them is difficult for us but we are also bringing in outstanding journalists and seeing new talent develop.'”