From CNN to Pages of WaPo: Is Kurtz Double Dipping?

At a party, it’s the makings of a Seinfeld episode to catch someone double dipping his chips and dip. But it is occasionally permissible for CNN and WaPo‘s Howard Kurtz to host “Reliable Sources” on CNN and then use that same material for his WaPo “Media Notes” column. In reverse, Kurtz has used his WaPo column and turned it into material for his show.

Illegal, no. But is it ethical to regurgitate your own reporting for multiple news sources? In an ever changing journalism profession where journos hold down multiple jobs, no doubt this gets confusing.

Kurtz typically quotes from a variety of reporters and publications in his WaPo “Media Notes” column, not just CNN. But check out Kurtz’s column from today’s edition of WaPo and watch what he does with his CNN interview Sunday with Newsweek’s Jon Meacham.

Overstretched editor?

Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham is dismissing criticism that his media moonlighting hurt the magazine that The Washington Post Co. put up for sale last week.

“There seems to be an impression… that I stole Don Graham’s car from his driveway and have been driving it around for a couple of years,” he says, referring to the Post Co. chairman. His bosses felt his visibility — from writing a Pulitzer-winning biography of Andrew Jackson to co-hosting the new PBS program “Need to Know” — “ultimately helps the magazine,” he told me in a CNN interview.
(Read more from the WaPo column after the jump…)

Watch the CNN video here from Kurtz’s TV interview with Meacham on the Washington Post Company sale of Newsweek in which Kurts announces that he works for the Washington Post Company.

Kurtz responded to FishbowlDC’s request for comment:
“I almost never use material from “Reliable Sources” for The Washington Post, but in recent weeks I had two newsworthy interviews, one with Robert Gibbs and the other with Jon Meacham. In both cases I asked my editor if he wanted me to include some highlights as a secondary column item, and in both cases the answer was yes. Lots of other Web sites picked up the Gibbs interview, but we waited eight days before mentioning it in the newspaper.

“As for the program, since we cover the week’s hot media issues, sometimes there’s a bit of overlap with what I’ve written, so in consultation with the producers, I sometimes mention information I’ve already reported so as not to artificially withhold it from CNN viewers.”

In August 2009, Media Matters jumped on Kurtz for what it deemed a “conflict of interest” of working for WaPo and CNN and not properly disclosing that he worked for CNN after defending it. See that story here. (On his CNN show Sunday, Kurtz states clearly that he also works for the Washington Post Co. as noted above.)

From Kurtz’s WaPo column:

While some are calling him an absentee landlord, he says, others complain “that the magazine is too much like me,” such as New York Times columnist David Carr suggesting that the magazine be renamed “Meacham.” “I don’t see how you can have it both ways.”

Meacham defends his strategy of slashing the circulation in half (to 1.5 million) and charging more for a weekly built on opinion and analysis — left-leaning analysis at that. “It may not have been a terrific bet, but I think it was the best bet,” he says.

Meacham, who is seeking investors, says he loves The Post Co. but that Newsweek has been its only magazine. “Perhaps a different company could do a better job with it,” he says.

Publish date: May 10, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT