Ethan Axelrod, the 22-year-old son of top Obama adviser David Axelrod, started work Monday editing the Denver edition of the Huffington Post, The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reports.
“I’ve been interested in journalism for a while,” Axelrod told Kurtz. “I heard through my father that they were expanding, so I applied for it.”
The HuffPo’s new Denver site officially launches in September but already has a page up, and Axelrod has filed a few posts linking to local stories, including one about a bear shot inside a Boulder home and another about a body found in Sloan’s Lake during this past weekend’s Dragon Boat festivities.
HuffPo has already opened local sites in New York City and Chicago and plans to add another in Los Angeles after the Denver edition. (Watch an interview with HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington about her plans to open as many as a dozen local sites, conducted last month by Boomtown blogger Kara Swisher.)
Axelrod’s father was a hotshot political reporter at the Chicago Tribune before turning to political consulting, Kurtz notes. The family background “piqued my interest a bit,” young Axelrod told Kurtz. “I’ve always been a follower and admirer of news reporting.”
Gawker points out that Axelrod, who graduated in May from Colorado College after working on the college newspaper, isn’t the first scion of a famous parent (or “well-connected VIP spawn,” in Gawker talk) to land a job at HuffPo.
Nicholas Graham, a member of the family that owns Kurtz’s publication, was hired as an associate news editor for the Web site and now works as associate video editor, according to HuffPo’s masthead. And former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s daughter, Elyssa, and actor Tom Hanks’ daughter, Liz, have had highly publicized jobs at HuffPo. (Full disclosure: I edited the newspaper at Colorado College and have some friends in common with Axelrod, and Colorado Independent editor John Tomasic worked at HuffPo last year.)
Mediaite parses the connections and potential repercussions of the Axelrod hire:
No doubt there will be chatter about HuffPo’s relationship with the White House, which Kurtz characterized as “largely supportive of President Obama,” as well as HuffPo’s status as the blog of the “fashionable left” (Michael Kinsley to Politico). That’s a given. (Let’s face it: This hire won’t make HuffPo less connected in D.C.) However, as the editor of the Denver local site, the younger Axelrod will be far more occupied with stories about green living, micro-brewed beer and funnily-named Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper than insidery Beltway shenanigans. Which, come to think of it, actually sounds like a pretty good prescription for the rest of us.
Closer to home, Westword writer Joe Tone welcomes the newsy colleague to town but also sounds miffed HuffPo stiffed the local alt-weekly for an interview while granting one to the WaPo’s Kurtz. Tone puts Axelrod’s arrival in the context of a town that only recently lost a major daily newspaper:
It’s not a shock, obviously; HuffPo would probably let Sasha and Malia co-write a fantasy football column if they asked. But still: Especially in the wake of the Rocky’s death, there’s a bit of a dearth of astute local news coverage in town, and some liberal readers no doubt have visions of HuffPo providing a new stop on their daily Internet-news train. That it will be manned by a 22-year-old college grad with no professional journalism experience who’s barely (if ever) lived in Denver — and who happens to be the seed of the President’s top offensive coordinator — is certainly an interesting play.
UPDATE: While the Denver edition of the Huffington Post was briefly visible during the day Wednesday — including top-of-the-page links to this story and this story from The Colorado Independent — by evening the site had been redirected to display the main HuffPo front page. The local edition is scheduled to debut in September.