Our seasoned team is equipped to cover Capitol

Executive EditorJanuary 13, 2013 

We open the 2013 session of the Legislature on Monday, and as you read in our front-page story, it promises to be a robust one.

We intend to cover the session with an equally robust coverage team, one staffed with seasoned journalists and bigger by one than last year.

It feels good to be able to say that.

As with other businesses, our last few years have been more about trimming than expanding.

We’ve had to prioritize which coverage we thought was most important to our 300,000 or so readers, knowing each has his or her own interests. Our goal was to keep coverage that matters to the most people, is most vital to our core mission of government accountability and provides coverage readers can’t get anywhere else.

State government coverage easily fits all those categories, and still it took some hits.

So when presented with an opportunity to rebuild, we started in Olympia. For the upcoming session, no media outlet will have more journalists covering the Legislature, government agencies or the governor’s office.

Our team is staffed with individuals who care deeply about their mission and bring collective decades of knowledge.

Reporter Jordan Schrader is geeky about state politics. He approaches his beat as if he were covering a major league sports team. It’s not just about what’s happening in the chambers for Schrader; it’s about building sources, digging into the gamesmanship and explaining how votes in Olympia affect each of us. Schrader has worked in the TNT statehouse bureau for three years. He covered the North Carolina statehouse before that and holds a history degree from the University of Michigan.

Reporter Brad Shannon is an institution in Olympia and joined our bureau several years ago. This Northwest native became political editor at The Olympian in 1999 and before that covered city government, courts, tribal issues and education. He is a graduate of The Evergreen State College. This year, Shannon will focus more sharply on state worker issues.

Our new team member is not new to the TNT. Melissa Santos covered Puyallup and the rest of East Pierce County from 2007-10. Before that, she was a University of Washington legislative intern for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A tenacious watchdog, Santos made several trips to Olympia to cover issues that mattered to Pierce County readers. She left the TNT to join her husband on his Navy tour in Italy, where she continued writing and worked on a second degree in digital media and Web design from the University of Maryland.

That body of work prepared her well for this new role, managing the breaking-news feed from Olympia all day, every day, for our readers online. Santos also is helping us develop exciting new ways to feed statehouse news to readers on their smart phones and tablets. (More on that in coming weeks.)

As in years past, we have a UW intern joining the statehouse bureau. Journalism will be a third or fourth career for intern Jimmy Lovaas. He has worked as a flight steward, a salesman and a bouncer. We’re guessing some of those skills might come in handy in Olympia.

Peter Callaghan, Tacoma native and longtime TNT columnist, will bring his powers of observation and analysis to the statehouse report as well. Callaghan has written for us since 1985. He also has worked for The Herald in Everett and covered the Legislature as an Associated Press intern. He’s a UW Husky, too.

Kim Bradford leads our state government team. She has been the TNT’s politics editor for two years and was an editorial writer for six years before that, specializing in state government issues. Bradford worked at the Tri-City Herald for 11 years as a reporter and on the editorial staff. She holds a journalism degree from Pacific Lutheran University.

Washington’s 2013 Legislature has critical, complicated decisions to make around building a viable budget and figuring out how to fully fund education. The collective expertise of our coverage team will help them explain the issues at a deeper level than you’re likely to find elsewhere.

Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434
karen.peterson@thenewstribune.com

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