David Harsanyi was hired as a Denver Post columnist in 2004, eventually moving to the editorial page -- and the bookshelves via his well-read 2007 effort Nanny State. He also contributed to Glenn Beck's Arguing With Idiots -- and he's now on Beck's payroll as a major player for his news website, The Blaze.
Why make the jump? In part because Harsanyi thinks The Blaze offers better potential for growth, on a number of fronts, than does the Post.
"I loved my job at the Post," Harsanyi emphasizes from The Blaze offices in New York. "How many people get to sit there and write columns about anything they want and work with really good people in a great city? But I was there almost seven years, and I'm a restless person -- and I wanted to explore something new. And the trajectory of where the media's going is here. Not to say the Post won't do well. But I think places like The Blaze will do better."
Some observers may question this assertion given recent news about Beck, who's announced that he will be parting company with Fox News in the wake of near-constant controversy and desertions of his program by numerous advertisers. This news broke on April 6, which just happened to be Harsanyi's second day on the job. "I didn't know that was going to happen," he notes. But while he concedes that the being blindsided by this development was "kind of a weird experience," he's not overly concerned. In his words, "I trust Glenn knows what he's doing."
He also feels comfortable with the way Beck has set up The Blaze.
"Glenn has no expectations that you're going to agree with him about everything when you work here, and there are some things I don't agree with him about -- not that he's ever even asked me," he says. "And it's not like I work with Glenn every day, though his hands are on most things that go on here. But he's put together a team of really smart people, and I love the plans they have here.
"I think The Blaze has gone out of its way to be an independent news and commentary source," he continues. "And that's what Glenn wants -- or he would have called it GlennBeck.com. He's growing the brand."
Regarding the brickbats being thrown at Beck by critics across the ideological spectrum, Harsanyi sees them as potential positives. "It doesn't concern me very much that he's being targeted," he says. "Actually, when you're being targeted, it shows that you matter."
As for Harsanyi's specific duties beyond his weekly syndicated column, which will continue, he's not entirely certain -- and that's exciting for him. "This isn't a huge company, so everything is still evolving," he points out. "But I'll have a ton of freedom to write long, write short, be goofy, be serious, answer critics. This gives me a platform that most journalists -- especially young journalists -- embrace, and that writing a column on a specific date and time doesn't allow you."
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Granted, he wasn't an early adapter of all current social media faves. "I wrote a column two years ago about how I hated Twitter and how useless it was," he says. "Then I took it back and Dan Haley" -- the Post's editorial page editor -- "called me a flip-flopper. But now I use it like an aggregator, to find out what's going on and gauge what people are interested in. It'll probably take a little time for me to build an audience there now that I'm at The Blaze, but I'd like to get involved in the larger conversation as well."
The Post, meanwhile, "is putting out a great product with maybe half the staaff it used to have, and I think its future is bright. But looking at it personally, to work at a place like The Blaze, because of how the medium has developed and the way the site is set up, gives me a lot more freedom to weigh in on different types of things. Not because Dan Haley didn't give me freedom. But here, I have a lot of interesting opportunities as a writer -- and I do think The Blaze will probably have a lot more eyeballs on it than the Post will probably have in the long run.
"That wasn't a huge part of my decision, but it seems to me that in the future, sites will look more like The Blaze than a newspaper. Obviously, the Denver Post is a different sort of journalistic enterprise, and we need both. But I just view this as something that fits me a little better."
More from our Media archive: "The Post's David Harsanyi breaks RNC-DNC flag flap."