— Ben Smith (@benpolitico) December 12, 2011
If two’s a trend, then holy cow. Ben Smith is leaving Politico for Buzzfeed and Don Van Natta is leaving the Times for ESPN (after 16 years!). (Bonus: from just the other day, here is a Ben Smith blog post about Don Van Natta.) This means a thing, and it’s different from recent hires like “Tina Brown offering people oodles of money” or “Bloomberg View offering people oodles of money,” but I can’t put my finger on just what. In part, it’s that there’s no longer what was once so clearly a “pyramid” of desirable media jobs, with the Times right on top like the eye on the pyramid. (Ben could have gone to work for the Times years and years ago, if he’d wanted to; Don found it not necessary to carry on there.) In another part, it means that there are media organizations with money and smarts who are not quite what you expected they are—leaving lots of room for future surprises in the landscape.