Media Moves: Newsweek's Secret Weapon Mark Coatney Leaves for Tumblr, Tumblr Now Responsible for Downfall of Newsweek?

Keep your blogs close, and your bloggers closer, apparently. The Washington Post-owned and recently beleaguered and now for sale news weekly Newsweek just lost a very important component in one single media move: Mark Coatney. Who's going to go work for Tumblr.

Why is Coatney such a huge (and hysterical, kind of) loss? Coatney took on the project of running a blog for Newsweek on microblogging platform Tumblr. They were among the first round of media outlets to be approached by Tumblr to work with them. Coatney made Newsweek an inimitable presence on Tumblr, quickly amassing a huge following by writing with a strong voice, and using the format less to push Newsweek's content and more to create original, new content for them. And this was a side-project for Mark. It wasn't even a full-time gig for him or anything. They were the first to take full advantage of the platform, and it worked quite well. Coatney earned some pretty laudatory critical marks for his work on it -- Joe Pompeo at Business Insider reported earlier on his tenure today positively -- and even got interviewed about his work on the Newsweek Tumblr a few times, as he became the publication's most public and vocal defender besides editor-in-chief Jon Meacham.

Media Moves: Newsweek's Secret Weapon Mark Coatney Leaves for Tumblr, Tumblr Now Responsible for Downfall of Newsweek?

And now, well, he's leaving a media gig for a gig with a growing tech company. And it doesn't really take anybody with any amount of knowledge other than that to understand what a stellar move it is for Coatney, and what a hit it is for Newsweek, who needs every advantage they can take for themselves right now. Who knows if they'll be able to find someone to fill in for Coatney, or if that person could do half the job he could.

Mark wrote on his Tumblr:

My new job, basically, will be to take the lessons I've learned at Newsweek and bring them to other media outlets. The mission is to show how this platform can be key to connecting journalists and readers, making the process more engaging and conversational. The approach will be the same that I've taken in creating the Newsweek Tumblr: That the most important thing for any publisher is to first be a full, participating member of the community, and that the main focus should be on meeting the needs of that community, not self-promotion.

Newsweek's taken quite a few hits lately!

All of which goes without mentioning that fancy new redesign that launched in May, which we hear they:

(A) Spent a grip of cash on that they will (B) Soon start scrapping and overhauling. Already.

Media Moves: Newsweek's Secret Weapon Mark Coatney Leaves for Tumblr, Tumblr Now Responsible for Downfall of Newsweek?

Oh, and the relentless public mockery of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who is desperately trying to save the publication (when he's not busy being mocked for his new TV show). That said, Newsweek has been over-bruised by its media contemporaries, given the solid stable of underrated writers they still have, and some of the work (hold that whole Glee episode) they've been producing. No question, though: This is a hit, it's a hit in a succession of hits, and it doesn't help their situation. Coatney, on the other hand? Not bad.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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