BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith will join the New York Times as a media columnist, the Times announced on Tuesday. Smith will take over the Times’ “Media Equation” column made famous by the late, great David Carr, and most recently written by Jim Rutenberg, who will transition into a writer-at-large role for the publication.
Smith started BuzzFeed’s news division back in 2011, successfully building out a serious news vertical at a site known for far lighter fare. Before that, he was a popular politics blogger at Politico. He will now join several other former bloggers from that site at the Times: Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, Alex Burns, Ken Vogel, and Glenn Thrush. Smith is also a veteran of local New York politics coverage, having previously founded the Politicker blog for the New York Observer.
David Carr made “Media Equation” a must read in and outside of the media industry before his death in 2015. His daughter, Erin Lee Carr, applauded Smith taking over the column shortly after Smith’s hiring was reported:
NBC News reports that BuzzFeed has launched a formal search to replace Smith. His exit will also undoubtedly fuel concerns about the news division’s future following company layoffs a year ago — but Smith didn’t seem worried about that on Tuesday. In a farewell letter to BuzzFeed staff, he called his stint at the publication “the privilege of my life” and credited the staff’s “hard work, creativity, aggressiveness, and judgement” for elevating the company to a site that now plays “a major role in shaping global news, and the news business.”