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Finally, Howard Kurtz has a job that matches his metabolism.
Kurtz, who Tuesday announced he’s joining online news site The Daily Beast as Washington bureau chief, put the Energizer bunny to shame during his long run as media critic at The Washington Post.
Even his own wedding couldn’t stop Kurtz. (Bad form, great journalism.)
In 2003, he spent the weekend of his nuptials filing a follow-up to the Jayson Blair-New York Times fabrication scandal, which he had broken. As the newlyweds flew home from L.A., the groom dictated a story – over the airplane phone – about the pressured resignation of Timesman Rick Bragg, who had aggressively defended his use of freelancers and interns.
And if that wasn’t enough for a spot on “Divorce Court,” three weeks later, on his honeymoon in London, Kurtz covered his third Times’ bombshell: The resignation of executive editor Howell Raines.
“I’m like a fireman who jumps into his boots when the bell rings,” says Kurtz, 57, who starts his new job Oct. 18. “There’s no way I’m not going to jump.”
Kurtz’ jump to the digital world put him in the eye of a 24-hour media hurricane. It was a jarring experience for a guy who logged three decades at the Post on the other end of interviews.
“I completely underestimated how much attention it would get,” he says. “I was surprised by the volume and intensity. I watched it with a mixture of amusement and amazement, getting calls from the New York Times and NPR and so many other places.”
Kurtz estimates that he received more than 500 calls, emails and tweets. (None from movie stars, he says, but Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted the announcement.) Kurtz personally answered all of his 200-plus emails, he says.
Kurtz, who will continue as host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” says the Daily Beast deal with Tina Brown came together in just a few weeks. Needless to say, he’s not worried about the pace at his new address.
After posting an online column every morning at the WashPost, Kurtz recently had moved to a real-time blog, in addition to his voluminous print work. He was the first WashPost reporter to blog, beginning in 2000, Kurtz says.
At The Beast, “I’ll find the right pace for me,” says Kurtz. “There’s a balance between posting every three minutes and taking the time not just to report but to think about your reporting. There’s a tendency to get wrapped up in the story.”
Though he learned how to write with voice and attitude on his WashPost blog, Kurtz says his work for the Beast “won’t be partisan in any way. I will still base what I write on reporting.”
That said, he adds that his pieces will have a “more informal, sometimes wittier tone.” This is the web, after all.