City Desk

Washington Post Local Staff Get New, More Geographic Beats

The Washington Post Local staff is getting a shake-up, according to a memo sent out this afternoon from Local editor and Paula Broadwell co-author Vernon Loeb. The changes are aimed primarily at giving some staffers either new thematic beats or more geographically focused ones. The shifts come four months into the executive editorship of Martin Baron, who's hinted that he wants to beef the paper's local reporting.

"Beats form the foundation of any metro news operation, and we’ve created a number of new ones in response to the growing complexity of Greater Washington," writes Loeb in his memo, available at the bottom of this post.

Among Loeb's new beats:

  • Regional work life, from former enterprise reporter Brigid Schulte
  • Urban life, from Robert Samuels, who's been doing a series on Washington corners.
  • Elderly and mental health, from former immigration reporter Tara Bahrampour.

The memo also sees the Post's Enterprise Team broken up along geographic lines, usually according to their previous beats. Maryland casino correspondent J. Freedom du Lac, for example, is headed to Anne Arundel County and the southern portion of Maryland, while Ian Shapira, who has covered military issues for the paper, will be working on base-heavy Fairfax County.

Loeb's changes also give "enhanced authority" to Local deputy editors Monica Norton and Mike Semel, with Norton on daily operations and Semel covering enterprise and breaking news.

We’re excited to announce a number of changes on the Local staff that we hope will enhance our beat coverage, enrich our community reporting and increase our breaking news agility, digitally and in print.

Monica Norton and Mike Semel, Local’s deputy editors and two of the newsroom’s most respected leaders, will be given enhanced authority to direct and drive coverage across our six reporting groups. Monica will run the day-to-day operation and ensure our coverage of the region is well planned, organized and executed. Mike will focus on driving breaking news coverage and important daily enterprise, helping to make sure our most important enterprise efforts reach their potential on A1 and B1. As news dictates, Monica and Mike will be empowered to assemble coverage teams from across the Local staff.

Beats form the foundation of any metro news operation, and we’ve created a number of new ones in response to the growing complexity of Greater Washington. In devising them, we’ve also asked that reporters assume greater responsibility for cultivating sources, covering agencies and finding stories in specific cities, counties and neighborhoods. Our new beat assignments are designed to enhance both our accountability reporting and our narratives on the way Washingtonians live their lives in the rapidly changing District and the diverse and fast-growing Virginia and Maryland suburbs.

To wit:

Paul Schwartzman, moving from the Enterprise Team, will become our regional politics writer on the Government & Politics Team, reporting to Chris Davenport and Eli Reyes. Paul’s instincts for politics and deep experience in the region made him a natural for this assignment.

Susan Svrluga, having roamed the hinterlands of Virginia before covering education in Northern Virginia during Michael Alison Chandler’s maternity leave, will take her regional expertise to Government & Politics and focus on Loudoun and Prince William Counties. She will work with Jeremy Borden in our Mannasas bureau and Caitlin Gibson in our Leesburg bureau to improve our coverage of these two diverse, fast-growing jurisdictions. Susan most recently chronicled the kidnapping of a Lynchburg mother and son by Filipino terrorists for Style. She will report to Chris Davenport.

Brigid Schulte, also moving from the Enterprise Team, will begin a beat on the Social Issues Team focusing on work life across the region, as well as the concerns of low-income children and families in the District, Arlington/Alexandria and Fairfax County. Brigid, who has just returned from writing a book about the stresses and strains on working mothers, will report to Sydney Trent.

Robert Samuels, who has been covering District nightlife, will also migrate to the Social Issues Team and inaugurate an urban life beat focusing on the ever-changing ways people live and play in the city, to include the District’s vibrant night life. Robert will combine this reporting with coverage of issues of importance to low-income children and families in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Robert, who joined the Post from the Miami Herald a little over two years ago, has demonstrated a keen eye for story and spent the summer capturing the scene at random street corners.

Tara Bahrampour, who has been covering immigration on the Social Issues Team, will start a new beat on aging, the elderly and mental health and backstop Pam Constable on immigration, as needed. Tara is no stranger to these issues, having written most recently about a homeless woman who turned up at Medstar Washington Hospital Center last fall with no memory of her past life. Pam will also focus on covering the region’s immigrant communities.

Michael Laris, who ably held down the police & courts beat in Montgomery County during Dan Morse’s recent book leave, will join the Transportation & Community Development Team headed by Henri Cauvin and focus on community development, growth and change in Northern Virginia, where he has considerable experience. His addition will enable Henri to reinvigorate his team’s community focus. Lori Aratani, who has been covering the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and construction of the Silver Line, will join Michael in writing about community and development issues in Fairfax, maintaining her MWAA and Silver Line responsibilities. Luz Lazo, who has been writing about Metro’s bus service and other transportation issues, will shift her focus to community development in Prince George’s County, while Katie Shaver will continue covering transportation and community development issues in Montgomery County as well as the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

Meanwhile, the members of Lynda Robinson’s Enterprise Team, as they continue their tradition of producing the most ambitious enterprise from the region writ large, will also assume specific geographic responsibilities for mining stories. Ian Shapira, with a deepening interest in exploring military families, will focus on Fairfax County. Theresa Vargas, known for her narrative explorations of the heart, mind and soul, will explore the District. Steve Hendrix, the Enterprise Team’s go-to guy for fast-off-the-news features, profiles and lifestyle trends, will watch southern Montgomery County, Arlington and Alexandria. Annys Shin, expert in real estate, housing and foreclosure matters, will focus on Prince George’s. Josh du Lac, pursuing Casino gambling in Maryland as a mini-beat for the year, will mine Anne Arundel County and southern Maryland, and Michael Rosenwald, known for his coverage of technology and innovation, will range across outer Montgomery county, Frederick and Howard counties.

Vernon

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    Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • Citizen

    Will this in any way impact whether Katherine Weymouth's drivers use the Escalades or the sedans?

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