Buzbee named AP Washington bureau chief

Memo to Associated Press staff

Washington colleagues,

There are few jobs in journalism more challenging or crucial than the post of Washington bureau chief of The Associated Press. You, the men and women of the Washington Bureau, are at the very core of the AP’s mission to deliver the news first, and best. Both breaking stories and then explaining them. Holding leaders to account and giving the public access to the workings of their government in forms they can understand.

You do this every day, at all hours, in multiple forms with the whole world watching. It is no small task, as I said, and nobody does it better than you do.

It will hardly be a surprise that we had quite a number of contenders for this job, both from within and outside of the AP. Several of them would have made excellent bureau chiefs.

We were looking for a journalist with multiple talents. Unassailable journalistic standards. Strong managerial skills. Proven leadership abilities and a passion for the news.

We have found just such a person. The next Washington bureau chief of the AP will be Sally Buzbee, deputy managing editor. Most of you know Sally, from her years in Washington, or from her years working with you from the Middle East or, most recently, from the past year overseeing the News Center in New York.

She is a passionate advocate for our journalism. She demands a lot from everyone around her, but never more than she demands of herself.

She brings to this new challenge a deep well of relevant journalistic experience. She is a true expert on America’s two wars, having spent most of the last six years in the Mideast overseeing our Iraq coverage and a plethora of wars and other crises.

Since January of this year, she has been in New York, helping us to create our new post-regionalization headquarters news operation _ the Nerve Center, working to deepen AP’s efforts at cross-format coordination, and engage readers and viewers in new ways. She’s had a critical hand in efforts to link up our newsrooms with our new product development efforts _ experience that will come in handy in Washington as we look at our coverage going forward.

Before all these travels, Sally spent her formative years with you in the Washington bureau _ first working as a reporter covering education and politics after coming to Washington in 1995. Later, she oversaw coverage of economics and science, and social policy issues.

She left Washington and the AP a few times during these years to live overseas with her family (Her husband, John, is in the foreign service). But she came back after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to serve as assistant chief of the Washington bureau in late 2003_ overseeing AP’s foreign affairs and national security coverage from Washington in the critical months after the Iraq invasion. It is really true she has seen the wars from both Washington and the battlefield.

Sally and, John, a former journalist, have been living in Washington (and Sally has gotten to know the Acela too well) with their daughters, Emma, 11, and Meg, 9.

Sally herself is a child of the Midwest. Her grandparents were born on prairie homesteads in southeast Dakota and Sally herself, in more settled times, grew up in a suburb of Kansas City. Her father in law, Dick Buzbee, was the longtime editor and publisher of The News of Hutchinson, Kansas (which before Dick’s time famously won a Public Service Pulitzer for advocating one-man, one-vote even though it clearly didn’t help Kansas).

She clearly has the nation in her blood.

This note to you would not be complete without a word about a very special journalist. We all owe Steve Komarow an extraordinary debt. For three years now he has been an essential linchpin in the success of the Washington Bureau. His devotion to quality journalism, his deft relations with federal agencies and his empathetic touch have impressed us all. I am very pleased that he has agreed to work closely with Sally to make her arrival and transition smooth and swift. Steve has much important work for the AP ahead of him.

Sally, Steve and I are headed to the bureau this morning and look forward to seeing you all at 11.

Mike Oreskes

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