McClatchy, Christian Science Monitor to share Baghad bureau staffing, expenses

To: McClatchy editors
From: John Walcott
Re: 2010 McClatchy foreign bureau lineup

For 2010, McClatchy will have foreign bureaus in Beijing, Cairo, Kabul, Mexico City and in Baghdad, where we’ll be sharing staffing and expenses with The Christian Science Monitor. We’re still working out the final arrangements, but we and the Monitor will rotate reporters through the Baghdad bureau, and we’ll share the costs of housing, local staff, in-country transportation, etc. The main Monitor reporters, whose work you’ll be seeing regularly, will be Jane Arraf, whose work you may know from CNN, and Scott Peterson, who happily is also an expert on Iran.

Tom Lasseter is moving from Moscow to Beijing to staff a bureau that’s been vacant for more than a year now. This was a difficult decision, but we concluded that China’s economic muscle, environmental and global health issues and importance to American policy in North Korea, Afghanistan and elsewhere, make it the more important place to be.

Hannah Allam will cover the Middle East from Cairo with help from a stringer in Jerusalem, and we’ll have some Israel coverage from the Monitor. A former Baghdad bureau chief, she’ll have oversight over the Iraq operation and be one of the main McClatchy rotators there.

Dion Nissenbaum has relocated from Jerusalem to Kabul to cover the escalating U.S. effort there, we hope joined from time to time by rotating McClatchy reporters and photographers who’ll embed with troops based in their areas, as Jay Price and Chuck Liddy from Raleigh have just done with spectacular results, and as Macon will be doing next month. Dion also will do some reporting in India, China’s rival and another source of important economic and environmental stories, as well as political ones.

Finally, former Beijing bureau chief Tim Johnson will reopen McClatchy’s vacant Mexico City bureau when he finishes work on his book on the Dalai Lama, probably in March. Tim is a former Miami Herald reporter, fluent in Spanish and familiar with Central and South American issues, and he’ll give us a front-row seat on the immigration, drug-smuggling, political, economic, environmental, health and other issues that are important to a growing number of McClatchy communities. The Caracas bureau is closed, Tyler Bridges has left the company and the Herald will assume responsibility for coverage of South America.

The Africa bureau is closed, too, and bureau chief Shashank Bengali is now in Washington, where initially he’ll be filling in for Justice Department/FBI reporter Marisa Taylor, who’s on maternity leave. After that, he’ll move to an assignment that will take advantage of his copious reporting, writing and multimedia skills, which will all be on display in his upcoming series of Africa’s population explosion, probably in part filling the hole left by the departure of Leila Fadel, who’s returning to the Middle East, this time for The Washington Post.

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