Two top Washington Post staffers -- the national political editor, John Harris, and reporter Jim VandeHei -- are leaving the Post for a new, Web-based, multimedia venture into covering politics. The new project, still unnamed but part of Allbritton Communications, is about as multi as media gets, incorporating TV stations, a Congress-insider newspaper to be launched in January and a Web site tying it all together.
And these guys were top of the food chain at The Paper you go to for political news. Or maybe the paper you used to go to. VandeHei and Harris were apparently offered some good green to stay, as well as control of the Post's online political realm. But Allbritton is really backing their new thing, letting VandeHei hire six reporters at salaries that he says are better than anything at the Post or even the New York Times.
Plus, they'll be flying those reporters around the campaign trail. I almost want to add, "Just like real reporters!" It seems some are treating these guys like pariahs for leaving such an institution for the Internet -- and some are downright offended.
Will this nameless venture succeed? Revolutionize news media? Provide a path for others to follow? Beat the Times and the Post in political coverage? Maybe. It could be nothing more than an expensive, hare-brained scheme, but the move does at least show the momentum behind the New Media movement and the faith (some) journalists and businesspeople have in it.
I hope they do a good job.