BOSTON GLOBE'S JURKOWITZ RETURNS TO THE PHOENIX. A little more than a decade ago, I replaced Mark Jurkowitz as the Phoenix's media critic after Mark left to become executive editor of Boston magazine. Today, the Phoenix announces that when I leave the paper a few weeks from now for Northeastern University, my replacement will be none other than - are you ready? - Mark Jurkowitz. It's a little like the baseball-trivia question about the guy who was traded for a player to be named later, and that player turns out to be himself.
Mark was scooped up by the Boston Globe not long after he left the Phoenix. Following a stint as the Globe's ombudsman, he became the daily's first full-time media reporter. He wrote some great stuff over the years, including a classic takedown of Jane Christo, then-general manager of WBUR Radio (90.9 FM), in the late '90s. He also covered the 1998 departure of the Globe's fiction-writing columnists, Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle, from the inside even as I was reporting the story from the outside. I had by far the easier task.
I was fortunate enough to work with Mark for three and a half years before taking over his beat. I learned a hell of a lot from him, not just about the ins and outs of the Boston media scene, but about larger issues as well, ranging from the perils of corporate media consolidation to ethical considerations. I had huge shoes to fill after he left, and I think it's no exaggeration to say that it took me a couple of years before I started to feel like I was out from under his shadow.
I talked with Mark this morning, and he sounded thrilled to be coming back. I'm thrilled, too. Alternative weeklies such as the Phoenix are simply the best venues for doing serious media criticism. Big dailies only rarely can accommodate the space and the delicate mix of reporting and opinion-mongering that go into good media writing.
Along with the late Dave O'Brian, Mark established the Phoenix as an important voice of media criticism both locally and nationally. It will be great to welcome him home.