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Star Tribune will ‘likely’ add business reporter to D.C. bureau

Three years ago, I wrote a column about finding a 1975 Minneapolis Tribune house ad touting the newspaper’s four-person Washington, D.C. bureau:

I don’t know what struck me more — a house ad actually touting a paper’s news talent, or the scope of what they covered. Now, ad writers have been known to indulge in puffery, but check out these beats beyond Frank Wright’s White House slot:

“Al McConagha focuses much of his expertise on the environment, foreign affairs.” “Finlay Lewis … watches congressional doings, Indian affairs, taxes.” “David Kuhn concentrates on Washington’s regulatory agencies, economics, education.” Regulatory agencies! Indian affairs! It’s enough to make a local newsie swoon.

In 2007, the Star Tribune was down to one D.C. reporter. But if the newest plan bears fruit, the Strib will be up to three in 2011.

According to an internal job posting (below), “…we may expand our Washington bureau by adding a correspondent who would focus on how politics and business intersect in the nation’s capital, through a Minnesota lens.”

It’s not quite a reporter focusing on “regulatory agencies, economics, education,” but managing editor Rene Sanchez says, “Every Minnesota industry, every big Minnesota company has pretty substantial interest in the politics and policy of what happens in Washington. Everything from issues of regulation, to issues of lobbying, to what extent Washington and its assorted agencies are affecting Minnesota businesses. It’s a pretty big landscape of prospective stories.”

Although the ad hedges on a commitment, Sanchez says, “We’re not certain we’re doing it, but I think you could call it likely.”

The job won’t represent a staffing increase. Someone will have to be moved from Minnesota-based coverage, and we don’t know how that balance of interests will play out.

Still, current D.C. reporters Kevin Diaz and Jeremy Herb will have their hands full with the GOP House takeover, Tim Pawlenty’s presidential run and Amy Klobuchar’s U.S. Senate race on the horizon. A more specialized reporter able to step away from the horse race sounds great — especially if she or he focuses not just on business-to-business, but impacts on customers, citizens and workers.

Here’s the job posting:

Category: Reporters
Date posted: 11/8/2010
Internal posting: Yes
External posting: No
Preferred candidate: No

Hours: M-F, 9 to 6. Some nights and weekends.

Pay structure: A scale

Job description: In the months ahead we may expand our Washington bureau by adding a correspondent who would focus on how politics and business intersect in the nation’s capital, through a Minnesota lens. The state’s largest companies and industries all have a presence in DC and a big stake in how Washington works. The reporter in this role would aim to tell those business and policy stories in ambitious, compelling ways, in print and on our digital platforms. This would NOT be a projects job. Rather, we would need an intensive self-starter, someone striving to be on the front page and Sunday Business cover regularly, someone with a long track record of turning complex stories into engaging reads — at high speed. The reporter in this role would at times also have to work with our excellent Washington bureau chief Kevin Diaz, who will continue to focus on the Minnesota delegation in Congress and the important political and policy news that they constantly create. But this prospective job would report to our Business department.

Qualifications: This prospective role requires sophisticated reporting and writing skills and an extensive track record handling both deadline stories and enterprise work well.

Action: Anyone interested should contact Rene Sanchez, Managing Editor, or Todd Stone, AME Business

Deadline: 11/24/2010

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