Another Pioneer Press reporter joins the Star Tribune

Phil Miller, the lowest-seniority Pioneer Press reporter laid off in summer cuts, joined the Star Tribune’s sports staff Thursday as a part-timer.

Miller had been the PiPress’ primary Twins beat writer. At the Strib, he’ll work two days a week backing up Jerry Zgoda on the Timberwolves beat.

You can argue with the wisdom of devoting more resources to the Wolves, but not the hire itself. In two-plus years covering the Twins, Miller established himself as a smart and fun-to-read writer. His layoff was particularly poignant because he left a more secure job at the Salt Lake City Tribune to pursue a dream of covering baseball. His new job marks a return to the NBA; at the Tribune, he covered the Utah Jazz.

According to assistant managing editor for sports Glen Crevier’s memo, “Phil will cover practices, games and spot news and will develop enterprise from the Wolves and the NBA. He will be writing for both the section and the web site.”

Crevier says Miller’s first Strib piece will appear Friday.

The hire is certain to raise some eyebrows because it comes just days after the Strib announced it is axing 30 newsroom jobs. Might Miller be walking into exactly the same situation that cost him his dream in St. Paul? Not if Strib leaders target their layoffs at non-reporters, as I’ve speculated; management also has increased contractural power to protect some employees from seniority-based cuts. Miller is a great guy acutely aware of the axe’s pain, but it won’t be comfortable walking in as long-timers are boxing up their stuff.

[Update: The job is also a temporary one, expected to last a few months.]

Miller’s hire also marks at least the third time in 13 months the Strib has grabbed a PiPress reporter. In October 2008, the Minneapolis paper hired away business reporter Jennifer Bjorhus, and in July, swiped political writer Rachel Stassen-Berger. Unlike Miller, Bjorhus and Stassen-Berger were still working for the PiPress when they switched.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Bob Collins on 11/12/2009 - 04:50 pm.

    I envision a scenario in which the Strib offered the gig to Phil, who replied, “I really don’t want to go back to covering professional basketball again.”

    “It’s the Timberwolves, you’re not really covering professional basketball,” the Strib boss says.

    “I can start tomorrow.”

  2. Submitted by John Reinan on 11/13/2009 - 01:26 pm.

    It’s bizarre times we’re living in when a reporter taking a part-time job rates a news item.

    Not questioning the value of the item — it’s interesting. But the state of affairs that makes it interesting is nuts.

  3. Submitted by Hal Davis on 03/14/2010 - 10:54 pm.

    ==The job is also a temporary one, expected to last a few months.==

    Well, here is it March and Phil, thankfully, is still there:

    Xavier knows its way around NCAA tournament

    The Atlantic 10 champion Bulldogs will be making their fifth appearance in a row.

    By PHIL MILLER, Star Tribune
    Last update: March 14, 2010 – 10:16 PM

    If the Gophers were hoping to face a starry-eyed team just happy to be in the NCAA tournament field, they’re going to be disappointed by their draw. The Xavier Musketeers, who face Minnesota in the first round Friday, have quietly become one of the most familiar faces in the field.

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