Monday, January 29, 2007

Howie Kurtz Doesn’t Praise The Politico, Color Me Shocked!

In the DC media market there’s been a lot of chatter about the new start up politics-centric newspaper-slash-website The Politico. Basically it’s well-funded and grabbed a couple of high-level reporters from The Post and a couple other places but it’s not offering a particularly unique product. There’s Roll Call, The Hill, National Journal, plus of course The Washington Post, and every other paper’s DC bureau.

Now, full disclosure, I applied for a job at The Politico but that’s just because it’s practically down the street from me and I’m unemployed. And no, I don’t think The Politico is anything special but I do believe that competition makes everyone perform better. I bet the very existence of The Politico is going to make all its competitors try harder for a little while.

Most though I want to smack Howie Kurtz on the nose for writing the kind of bitchy, gossipy bullshit “column” about a rival that I expect to find at one of two alternative weeklies sharing the same city.

So Howard Kurtz writes that:

The political-junkie Web site, led by two former Washington Post reporters, wasn't as jam-packed as I expected, or as colorful, and is rarely updated during the day. In fact, most of what is on -- and the print version, distributed free mainly on the Hill -- could easily have run in an Old Media relic like this newspaper. It strikes me as solid and substantive, but not knocking anyone's socks off.

Wow, a rival editor who is now reviewing the new product of former colleagues and he finds it lacking? How shocking????

Since Harris and Jim VandeHei, the Politico's executive editor, left high-profile Post jobs in November to launch the site, there was plenty of bleating in the press about the imminent death of print and the ascendancy of the Web. Well, there's no question that online sites are hot, which is why newspapers are pouring resources into their digital operations (including an expanded politics section on that just happened to start up last week).

See, says Kurtz, us print newspapers are still the best place to get news. All we have to do is expand our existing sections. More Howard Kurtz please! I want him served up five days a week unvarnished.

Allen and Harris wrote of Hillary Clinton that her challenge was "convincing millions of people that the most famous woman on the planet -- someone who has been astride the national stage for 15 years -- is someone quite different than they think she is." If that sounds like a Post news analysis, maybe it's because they used to be the White House team here.

Or frankly still the old team since today’s front page above the fold story is “Mixed Reviews For Clinton In Iowa” (which should have been called “Post Reporters Are Not Impressed By Clinton’s Moves In Iowa Because We Think People Don’t Like Her And Are Determined To Prove Everyone Agrees With Us”)

Some items are way inside baseball, and a few stories -- such as "Health Problems Pose Governing Challenge," because the average age of senators has risen from 60 to 62 -- seem a bit of a stretch.

But dissing a rival newspaper staffed with former colleagues, that is totally something EVERYONE is interested in reading.

The Web site, which drew about 488,000 visitors in its first four days, is competing for advertising in a different arena: with Slate, Salon, National Review Online, Huffington Post, Instapundit and countless political blogs. Harris, for his part, is relieved that he got the thing up and running in the space of one month.

See those smucks aren’t the only web site competing for dollars. They’re doomed! Not like the Washington Post. They don’t compete for advertising dollars at all.

"I just hope people will judge us over time," he says. "We had never expected to create a revolutionary new brand of journalism on Day One."

And since you didn’t pass the Kurtz sniff-test on your first day, clearly you didn’t. Better give up your day job Jim VandeHei!

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