Following weeks of heated rumors, The Washington Post announced on Tuesday that Wonkblog editor Ezra Klein will leave the paper for an unnamed "new venture." And according to the Tuesday memo sent to staffers, Klein will take co-workers Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews with him to whatever new site he is building. Matthews ran the site's popular "Know More" blog, which became the site's highest-trafficked blog within weeks of launching.
It's official: Ezra is leaving the Post. Hoping for the best for him.— Wonkblog (@Wonkblog) January 21, 2014
There are few confirmed details available on what Klein's going to do next. But the rumors have circulated since the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reported in December that Klein was considering starting up his own media site after being rebuffed by his current bosses. According to the New York Times's follow-up story on the rumors, Klein pitched a WaPo-affiliated project to provide "explanatory journalism," and asked the paper for "eight figures" in investment. Publisher Katherine Weymouth and owner Jeff Bezos reportedly rejected that deal, prompting Klein to strike out on his own.
There's no announced replacement for Klein, Bell, or Matthews yet, but the Post notes in their memo that they'll "have some exciting announcements" about the future of Wonkblog and Know More "in the coming days."
Here's the full memo, via Poynter:
We regret to announce that Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture.
All three were instrumental in two of The Post’s most successful digital initiatives, Wonkblog and Know More. 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.
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. 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. Ezra’s passion and drive will be missed, but we will take pride in watching him chart out his new venture.
Melissa has played a pivotal role in our digital strategy. As director of platforms, Melissa worked with the embedded developers to introduce WordPress as a secondary CMS, allowing for much of the development experimentation we’ve seen over the last year. She took over blog strategy and worked to hone the number of blogs and strengthen existing brands. She also managed to find time for some writing while here, driving our live coverage expansion, penning a Style column for more than a year, blogging for BlogPost and Style Blog and writing magazine stories. But her biggest strength is her personality, a combination of relentless determination and self-deprecating humor that helped her motivate young developers.
Dylan Matthews is a wunderkind in his own right. A blogger since middle school, Dylan had freelanced for Slate and worked at the American Prospect — before his 18th birthday. He started contributing to Wonkblog while still a student at Harvard and jumped in full-time in 2012. Last year he launched Know More, which was an instant hit. We will miss his humor and sharp instincts for what works on the Web.
Please join us in wishing Ezra, Melissa and Dylan the best and thanking them for their many contributions to The Post.