Oregonian editor: ‘We are going to build a first-class data reporting team’

Memo to the Oregonian staff from editor Mark Katches:

Hi all,

I’m in New York until Friday but I couldn’t be more excited to share news with you that I hope underscores our commitment to high-impact journalism and great story-telling.

Les Zaitz will be returning to the newsroom to be our managing producer for watchdog journalism. Les has reported for more than 40 years. Along the way, he’s won a Polk award and has been a two-time Pulitzer finalist. He will oversee a group of watchdog reporters and will also work with reporters and managing producers around the room to spread a watchdog culture and make sure that we are positioned to produce more and better investigative journalism inside our main newsroom and in our bureaus. Les, a native Oregonian, currently lives on his ranch near John Day. He will be spending four days in the newsroom each week. Bruce Hammond, who has ably served as our investigative editor, will slide over to a managing producer role overseeing a brand new team of standout reporters. You’ll hear more details about that very soon./CONTINUES

Anna Griffin will be a managing producer for story-telling and serve as our writing and story-telling coach. Anna joined the Oregonian 10 years ago after 11 years at the Charlotte Observer. She started here as a city hall reporter before writing a metro column. In 2011-12 she spent a year at Harvard as a Nieman fellow. Since rejoining the newsroom, she has helped edit and coach our Portland Team. Anna is one of our finest writers – and we don’t want to give that up (and thankfully, neither does Anna.) She will continue to do project reporting while also editing a small reporting team. Like Les, Anna will have the latitude to work with reporters and their managing producers around the newsroom and in our bureaus to help elevate our writing.

Many of you have probably heard about my strong desire to ratchet up our ability to produce data-driven journalism. We are going to build a first-class data reporting team that will include data reporters and data visualization specialists. Steve Suo, who has spent the past two years helping to lead first our Breaking News Team and then our Portland Team, will be overseeing these efforts as our new Data Hub managing producer. Like Les and Anna, Steve will have a team reporting to him. But he will work broadly and purposefully to increase our ability to produce authoritative, data-driven journalism in every corner of the Oregonian newsroom and in our bureaus. Steve’s data reporters – all new hires – will produce their own stories and also collaborate with other reporters and editors. The team will be responsible for obtaining, cleaning, crunching and visualizing searchable datasets for posting on OregonLive.com.

The appointments of Les, Anna and Steve are big moves that will make our newsroom stronger and our journalism deeper. They will officially shift over to their new roles when the remapping process is completed — although Steve has already jumped in to begin the process of interviewing Data Hub job candidates. The goal will be to have every piece of the map in place by the end of this month.

Mark Katches
Vice President of Content Oregonian Media Group
Editor of the Oregonian