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Strib loses top Vikings reporter to ESPN

Pat Reusse isn't going to like this: the Strib just lost its top Vikings reporter to the Internet.

Kevin Seifert, who covers the region's dominant sports team for the region's dominant news source, is going to ESPN.com. There, the eight-year Strib vet will report on the NFC North. Seifert's last day is May 23, according sports editor Glen Crevier's memo.

To be sure, Seifert isn't a "star" like Reusse — after all, few locals still lament the loss of Seifert's predecessor, Don Banks, who jumped from the Strib to Sports Illustrated (with a year's stop at the PiPress). But just two weeks ago, in a column complaining about declining newspaper resources amid the Internet onslaught, Reusse lauded the current Star Tribune sports staff as the "best crew I've worked with." The first name he mentioned was Kevin Seifert's.

Seifert seemed particularly attuned to the new ways of newspapering, hamming it up on web videos and chattering away on blogs while doggedly pursuing old-fashioned scoops. Sports is a huge, huge brand for the paper, and it'll be interesting to see if the paper can find as good a multi-platform player.

The move also begs the obvious question: is Seifert leaving for a better gig or exiting a sinking ship? As of press time, I've given him all of 14 seconds to respond, so I'll update when he gets back to me.

[Update: Seifert says, "I can't minimize the situation here at the Strib but I think it's a good career move regardless. ESPN is ahead of the curve on where most people think sports coverage is going — multimedia synergy — and that makes it a very appealing place to work.

This was absolutely not a case of jumping ship. I have a lot of respect for the paper and the managers I deal with. I wasn't eager to leave at all  but am very excited about this new opportunity."]

To be fair to Reusse, his complaint centered on "stand-alone" Internet sites that draw away eyeballs without dedication to beat reporting. ESPN.com isn't that; they've been picking off top sports journalists for years to populate their TV network, website and radio shows — and if anything, the hiring pace has increased lately.

Frankly, it's not hard to see the Worldwide Leader in Sports getting so big that they'll soon staff each local team with their own beat guys.

In the end, it's probably not the guys in the bathrobes Reusse has to worry about; it's the guys with a cable network that's slightly more profitable than the Strib.

As always, the memo —  which, by the way, is one we'd all hope to get upon our departure:

Folks:

Kevin Seifert will be leaving the Star Tribune on May 23 to cover the NFC North for ESPN.com.

Kevin has been our Vikings beat writer since the 2000 season, when he joined us from the Washington Times, where he covered the Baltimore Orioles. During that time, he has been a tireless reporter who has been instrumental in elevating the coverage of our most important sports beat, both in the section and online.

Kevin has set a high standard as a reporter. He learned to develop sources to the point where almost nothing happened at Winter Park without Kevin learning of the news almost immediately. He seldom, if ever, got beat on stories, and his exacting standards provided coverage that our readers could trust implicitly.

Kevin has been the consummate professional. We’ll miss him greatly and we wish him nothing but the best.

Glen

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