‘Star Tribune’ Moves Reader Rep. To Health Editor Post

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By: Joe Strupp

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis has seen its second major staff shakeup in less than 24 hours as Reader Representative Kate Parry leaves the post she has held for three year to become health care editor.

In a memo first posted on the Poynter.org Romenesko site, editors revealed Parry would assume her new job on Oct. 8 and the reader representative position would remain unfilled for the near future.

“We plan to keep the readers’ rep position open while we evaluate our options although it’s likely that in the future this will be a part-time position,” the memo stated, in part. “In the meantime, we hope to step up communication in other ways. We will, of course, continue to answer all readers calls and report significant issues to editors in the room. Department heads will be asked to take on responsibility for correcting errors in their sections. And newsroom leaders will be asked to increase communication with the public.”

The announcement comes less than a day after Publisher Chris Harte announced Editorial Page Editor Susan Albright would be leaving after 14 years at that job due to a disagreement over the editorial page’s local approach.


The entire memo related to Parry’s job switch is posted below:

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Star Tribune editors’ memo to staff

Dear staff:

We’re pleased to announce that Kate Parry will be our new health care editor, taking on responsibility for coverage in print and on line. She will also occasionally serve as an at-large editor in the newsroom.

As you all know, we created one health care team to serve needs across the newsroom, including business, metro and features. This team has some of our most experienced reporters and writers, and we are looking to this team to produce some of our most ambitious journalism. In addition, we will need to expand our coverage online headed into 2008. We searched for several months for the right person to lead this coverage before coming to the conclusion that Kate had the best mix of skills for this important job. We know that she will provide thoughtful leadership and sophisticated editing; she has a long track record as an award-winning journalist.

When Kate came here nearly three years ago, it was with the understanding that the job of reader representative would not be a lifetime appointment and we discussed a tenure of about three years. I think we can all agree that Kate has served in that role admirably, and with courage. She has taken on some very difficult topics in her column, and spent hours listening to readers, and addressing the public. She has tackled prickly issues in the newsroom too, negotiating differences between writers and readers. We have been lucky to have her in that role.

But in a time of dwindling resources, we need more help with the journalism in the newsroom in order to serve our readers at the level they deserve.

We plan to keep the readers’ rep position open while we evaluate our options although it’s likely that in the future this will be a part-time position. In the meantime, we hope to step up communication in other ways. We will, of course, continue to answer all readers calls and report significant issues to editors in the room. Department heads will be asked to take on responsibility for correcting errors in their sections. And newsroom leaders will be asked to increase communication with the public. I will be resuming the editor’s blog and the editor’s column that Anders started, and I will occasionally ask other top editors to share that responsibility. We will also take on more responsibility for outside speaking engagements to share with the public the work we are doing in the newsroom. I have done two in the last week alone.

Kate will start her new job Monday, Oct. 8. Since her work will cross all departments, she will report to Deputy Managing Editor Rene Sanchez. Please join us in thanking her for her work as the reader’s representative and wishing her well in this new role.

Nancy, Scott and Rene

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