Douglas Birch, an editor at The Associated Press in New York and a former Moscow bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun, has been named AP’s chief of bureau in Moscow.
The appointment was announced Monday by AP International Editor John Daniszewski.
In Moscow, Birch will lead a staff of about 60 people who provide news coverage for 11 former Soviet nations.
“I am delighted to see Doug headed back to Russia. He already has had a distinguished and accomplished career as a science writer and a foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. He will bring energy, vision and imagination to his new challenge of overseeing AP’s large operations in Russia and the former Soviet Union,” Daniszewski said.
Birch, 54, joined the AP’s international desk in New York in November from the Sun, where he had worked for nearly two decades. As Moscow bureau chief from 2001-5, he covered stories including Russia’s war in Chechnya, the 2004 Beslan school massacre and the 2003 hostage crisis at Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater. He also frequently reported outside of Russia, including tours covering war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Earlier, Birch had been a science reporter at the Sun, starting in 1992. In 1996, he left the paper for 18 months to join New York Times Television, where he reported from Africa, Iceland and the former Yugoslavia for “Science Times,” a show broadcast on The Learning Channel.
He returned to the Sun in 1997, writing on the hunt for a malaria vaccine and the race to map human DNA. He co-authored a three-part series on the influence of biotechnology money on university research that was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prizes.
In 2005, Birch was dispatched by his editors to New Orleans where he spent two months reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the government’s response.
Birch began his career at community newspapers in Morris County, New Jersey, and San Luis Obispo, California. He joined the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1983, eventually covering city hall, and switched to the Sun in 1986. A native of Pasadena, California, he graduated in 1974 from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, and holds a master’s degree from Columbia’s School of Journalism.
As AP’s Moscow bureau chief, he succeeds Judith Ingram, who resigned in December.
“Russia’s struggle to build a new society on the ashes of the Soviet era is one of the world’s best news stories, and no one has been covering it longer than the AP,” Birch said. “This is a challenge, as well as an honor and an amazing opportunity.”