Following a protracted breakup and some unsuccessful negotiating (he reportedly wanted an eight-figure investment), star Wonkblogger Ezra Klein is leaving the Washington Post to strike out on his own. “When Ezra joined us in 2009, he was a wunderkind blogger with brash confidence and a burning desire to write a column in the print newspaper,” said the Post in a memo today. “As he leaves us, Ezra is still a brash wunderkind, but now his burning desire has a grander scope: He is looking to start his own news organization, an ambition that befits someone with uncommon gifts of perception and analysis.”
Jumping ship with Klein are fellow Wonks Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews, who launched the Upworthy-but-not-idiotic viral site Know More under the Post umbrella. It immediately became one of the paper’s most popular blogs, bringing in more traffic than even its mother site, Wonkblog. Both the Wonkblog and Know More brands belong to Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, where they will remain. (“We plan to continue building those brands and expanding their reach, and we’ll have some exciting announcements related to them in the coming days.”)
“Part of the theory behind the site is to give me more time to hit the ball a little further,” Klein told Daily Intelligencer in 2011, when Wonkblog expanded from a one-man shop to his own little army within the paper. At the time, Klein cited Andrew Sullivan as an influence — a brand-name journalist who worked within a larger media organization. Since then, Sullivan has left the Daily Beast to do it on his own — and has so far found success. Klein, in whatever form his new venture takes, has doubtlessly been paying attention.
“When a sector is young and new and populated by amateurs, you see a lot of one-person shops,” said Klein at his point of expansion. “Eventually, you just become an organization.”