Boston Phoenix media critic Mark Jurkowitz will be leaving the paper on or around July 1 to become the associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism headquartered in Washington, DC.
Media Critic Mark Jurkowitz
“Jurkowitz was a triple threat,” said Phoenix Editor Peter Kadzis. “His writing for the paper made people sit up and take notice. His regular TV appearances on “Beat the Press” on Boston PBS station WGBH, carried his smarts and grit to a wider public. And his multiple daily posts on his thephoenix.com blog ensured that the wired public everywhere in the world had access to his savvy and sophisticated analysis.
“Mark is a reporter first and foremost,” Kadzis continued. “He is not a thumb sucker. An equal-opportunity basher, Mark takes no joy when others — be they individuals or institutions — fail to hit the mark. His dedication to digging, to getting the facts before he begins analyzing was — and is — the key to Mark’s keeping his aim so true. His love for journalism is surpassed only by his love for his family.
“I’m speaking in the present tense because Mark is going to continue his media-criticism column, ‘Don’t Quote Me,’ and his blog, ‘Media Log,’ until he walks out the door.”
“Don’t Quote Me” is an institution not only in Boston but in the alternative press. Launched in the Phoenix by the late Dave O’Brian in the 1970s, as a combination of media gossip and business reporting, it was one of the first such columns in the nation.
Here at the Phoenix, O’Brian set the standard. Stephen Kinzer, now of the New York Times, also wrote the column before moving on.
Jurkowitz, in the first of his two stints at the Phoenix, gave it a new definition and an added dimension by making it less a report from the inside and more of an explanation of why the news business mattered to society at large.
His successor, Dan Kennedy, now teaching at Northeastern University, steered “Quote” into the world of new media. With equal dollops of conscience and common sense, Kennedy kept his eyes on how the media shaped politics and how politicians shaped the news.
Before returning to the Phoenix, and his old column, in 2005, Jurkowitz spent 10 years at the Boston Globe, first as Ombudsmen, then as media writer.
In January of 2006, Slate media critic and former alternative-press editor, Jack Shafer, speaking in an interview with PR Week, named Jurkowitz as one of the two best media critics in the country.
Of his career to date, Jurkowitz said: “I’ve had the pleasure of spending two decades working in one of the small, strange corners of journalism — as a media critic who scrutinizes the good, the bad and the ugly in own profession. (There’s never any shortage of fodder.)
“After a decade at the Boston Globe, I returned last year to where I learned that craft — the Boston
Phoenix — because I believed it was the best venue for a media critic to exercise voice and passion. In many ways, I’ve been professionally revitalized here and am grateful for the opportunity to have become a functioning, if not particularly skilled, member of the blogosphere.
“But for someone in my line of work, the ultimate challenge is to become involved on a deeper level of focusing on the problems and issues of the press and journalism. That’s the mission of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which I’ve long admired. And it’s my privilege to join them in that effort.”
On the Web
Project for Excellence in Journalism: www.journalism.org