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MnMon, Strib get their men

The economy may suck, but the relative blizzard of announcements hitting my laptop this morning indicates there are still jobs for journalists out there.

As reported here last week, Minnesota Monitor offered Steve Perry the job of editorial director, and today Perry announced on his Daily Mole site that he accepted. He starts Feb. 19, and will turn the Mole into “a personal site with a more arts/culture orientation.”

Perry wasn’t exactly eager to explain his Monitor vision to a competitor, but it sounds like the staff will still be largely part-time, and somewhat bigger than the current lineup. On the Mole, he promised “provocative” local news and Campaign ’08 coverage. It will be fun to see Steve battle his old rag, City Pages, for alt-world bragging rights; on a full-time-equivalent basis, Perry may wind up with more writers devoted to news. And of course, he’ll press us, as the Minnesota Monitor crew already does. All this is excellent for readers.

The Mole will remain live and presumably reconstituable if MnMon doesn’t work out; Perry noted that it was getting 8,000-10,000 page views a day, up from 2,000 in the early beta stages (adding, a bit defensively, “all without paid promotion or mainstream media exposure.”) That’s less than half of what MinnPost generates – darn good for a bootstrapper, but nowhere near enough for a living. His Monitor move is a victory for a different economic model of local Internet news site: the kindness of rich people. Like our own Joel Kramer, Minnesota Monitor founder David Bennahum has deep tendrils among the monied; some day, memberships and ads may provide the necessary base, but until that happens, journalism jobs increasingly depend on the civic-mindedness of a few.

Over at the Strib, Editor Nancy Barnes announced that Rene Sanchez and Cory Powell have been named managing editor for news and managing editor of “presentation and innovation,” respectively. They’re basically incumbents; both had been deputy managing editors, but there’s been no managing editor since Scott Gillespie was kicked over to the editorial page. Now, there will be no deputy managing editors, Barnes said in a memo; she still has to hire a managing editor for online/interactive.

What does it mean for readers?  Sanchez has been the avatar of the Strib’s longer-form journalism; if you like the paper’s “Minnesota Profiles” (Kevin Kling, Will Steger, Michelle Bachmann), Sanchez is the guy in charge. Overall, I thought the Steger piece was too short, the Bachmann piece too mushy, and the Kling piece nicely done if not immensely newsworthy. On the flip side, he and Barnes are the people the investigative and enterprise units report to, so he’s a final arbiter of the paper’s bridge coverage, for example. More than a few praise him and Barnes for not weakening tough-minded investigations as they move up the chain of command — a definite improvement over recent regimes. As the Strib has tried to mix those deeper “impact” stories with wider suburban coverage, some beat writers complain Sanchez doesn’t pay enough attention to the bread-and-butter stuff that fills the paper each day. On some level, a hall of mirrors, but that’s a top-line sample.

I don’t know Powell, but Barnes cites his work on the paper’s oft-criticized redesign and the entertainment freebie. She says he’s working “on other new initiatives for the paper (which I won’t talk about for competitive reasons).”

Strib memo

As always, here’s the memo:

I’m delighted to announce two key promotions.

Rene Sanchez has been promoted to managing editor for news and Cory Powell has been promoted to managing editor for presentation and innovation. Both will report directly to me.

As managing editor for news, Rene will be in charge of managing most of the news departments, the daily news report, and newsroom enterprise. We will share the responsibility for managing projects and investigations. As everyone who has worked with Rene knows, he is relentless in his pursuit for excellence in ways small and large. Since arriving in our newsroom in 2004, he has excelled as both a writer and an editor. He has worked on most of our major enterprise for the last several years and was the driving force behind much of our coverage of the collapse of the I-35W bridge.  I have worked closely with Rene for the last several years, first in his role as Sunday editor and, over the last year, as deputy managing editor for content. I have found him to have impeccable news judgment, a wealth of ideas and great people skills. He is a perfect fit for this job.

Rene’s journalism career began at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, first as an agate clerk and prep sports writer and then as a police and general assignment reporter. From there, he went to the Washington Post where he rose from a night cops reporter to the Post’s National staff. He covered education issues and news around the country, and spent his last six years covering California and the West.

Rene and his wife, Kerri, live in Minneapolis with their 6-year-old daughter, Martha.

As managing editor for presentation and innovation, Cory will be responsible for the design desk, the copy desk, photography and graphics, as well as all newsroom operations. He will also be responsible for understanding our markets and working with other departments in new product innovation and he will represent the newsroom in day-to-day issues that involve the pressroom and circulation.

Cory has been a creative force in the newsroom, working first on the redesign, the launch of (the tab) and most recently as the deputy managing editor for visual journalism. Behind the scenes, he is working on other new initiatives for the paper (which I won’t talk about for competitive reasons).  As we have launched into zoning at warp speed, Cory has been instrumental in working with all the departments to get this up and running with the least amount of pain possible.

Cory came to the Star Tribune in 2003 from the Charlotte Observer where he rose from designer to design director over the course of 10 years. He has also worked at two other papers, as a news editor, copy desk chief and a copy editor. He is considered a leader nationally in design, and has taught at both the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute.

He and his wife, Kristen, live in Eagan with their son, Cole, 7, and daughter, Carson, 5.

Cory and Rene have been invaluable to me in what has been a difficult year for our newsroom; we are lucky to have journalists of their caliber.  The deputy managing editor positions they vacate will not be filled. The managing editor for online/interactive will be named later, when the President for Digital has a chance to weigh in.

Cory and Rene will be meeting with individual departments over the next few weeks so that you all can get to know them better. Please join me in congratulating them on their new roles.



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