Jack Shafer, Slate's very recently laid-off media critic, is moving to Reuters, according to a source familiar with the matter. The deep-pocketed news service — which under the digital leadership of Chrystia Freeland has been on a recent hiring spree that included David Cay Johnston and David Rohde — began talking to Shafer in June, well before the surprise Slate layoff. No wonder Shafer's post-layoff interviews were so jovial.
Shafer will cover the media beat for the Reuters.com Opinion section, edited by his former Slate colleague James Ledbetter. Whether he'll write a column or some combination of column and blog is still under discussion. Either way, the tone, frequency, and length will be very similar to his output at Slate, where Shafer typically wrote shortish columns several times a week.
The press critic confirmed the move over Twitter and to Intel. "My ambition in life was to be the Felix Salmon of Reuters," he told us, "but then I found out that there already was a Felix Salmon of Reuters. I'm settling for being the Ryan Adams of Reuters. " By which he probably doesn't mean putting out beautifully sad alt-country, but maybe he does plan, like Adams, to turn a harsh breakup into bigger and better things. He said he's excited to "collaborate with the geniuses at Reuters," and "mix up genres." Shafer will add politics — officially — to his bailiwick. "It will be more overt," he explained. "I won't be smuggling a politics column into the readers' media column." After emerging from a more cash-strapped environment at Slate, Shafer also sounded excited about the possibilities that Reuters's resources will let him explore. "The sky is the limit over there," he said.
This post has been updated with additional information.