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Clues to the future at Star Tribune

Posted at 1:09 PM on February 25, 2007 by Bill Wareham

Kate Parry's interview with new Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes offers some insight on the future of that paper's newsroom. In particular, I was interested in Barnes' response to questions about coverage priorities and staff size:

I can tell you what I can control. The projects and investigations and high-end coverage will not disappear. Partly because I think that's one way in which we distinguish ourselves. I don't care where you are, at any newspaper in the country, you can make this a priority. Polling and travel, they're important. I don't know how much we can do until I get a budget, which I have not gotten.

I am anticipating that we'll have the buyouts that are written into the union contract that employees can opt for on their own, and we'll go forward with those. I'm not anticipating filling behind those people. So, yes, we are likely to go down in size some. I don't know how much; I have not been given a number.

Now let's talk about Avista. This is a private equity company. They are in this to make money. I mean, down the road, three to five years, three to six years, they plan to sell this paper for more money than they bought it for. That's what private equity does. In order to do that, they need it to be a thriving, healthy and growing paper. It's no secret that we haven't been growing revenue. They're likely to look very hard at opportunities to grow revenue. That might be new products. That might be changes in how we do advertising. I've talked to them about what my vision for the newsroom is and they very much want to see that sort of multimedia approach. In terms of editorial direction, the one thing I have heard from Avista is more local content. Meaning they don't want people spending their time duplicating what's available on the wires. They should be producing exclusive local content.