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Monday, January 14, 2008

PD Unleashes Wildebeest On City Hall

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2008 at 12:44 PM

According to a Plain Dealer memo, the paper's new city hall reporter is a whiz at public records but has a tendency to accidentally knock over secretaries.
The Plain Dealer is shuffling several of its news reporters this month, unleashing an apparent "wildebeest" on City Hall, moving to the courts beat a reformed "neophyte ... with the notion that public officials were somehow to be feared," and sending a veteran courts reporter to that muckrakers' pasture in the sky, the general assignment desk. Also, the paper hopes to announce a new Cleveland Schools reporter in the next few days. There must be a dispute over which straw was shortest. The details are in a memo from Metro Editor Chris Quinn. Click 'More' to read the memo. -- Joe P. Tone Several Metro reporters will move into new positions Jan. 21. Gabe Baird, who left the police beat a couple of months ago to take on the courts, won't be unpacking at the courts office. Gabe will join Henry Gomez on the Cleveland City Hall team. Gabe's database skills make him an ideal reporter to tackle City Hall, which contains untapped mountains of computerized data. Gabe also has the backbone and personality to make sure the sometimes-uncooperative folks over at City Hall turn over public records. If you've not seen him in action, you've probably seen National Geographic television programs about lions and wildebeests. It's kind of like that. Gabe's editor will be Mark Vosburgh. Jim McCarty, who has spent much of his career alternating between courts and general assignment work, will alternate once more, moving from the courts beat to general assignment. With all the recent changes in the newsroom, we need to fortify the general assignment staff with reporters who can tackle any kind of story and make it worthy of page 1, and Jim has a long history of doing just that. Jim's editor will be Mark Vosburgh. Leila Atassi will move from the general assignment team to the courts beat. Three years ago, Leila was a neophyte Metro reporter with the notion that public officials were somehow to be feared. Today, it's public officials who fear Leila. She's become one of the stars of the staff with her coverage of all sorts of municipal issues, and now she'll take her considerable writing skills to the courthouse. Leila will work out of the main newsroom. Leila's editor will be Karl Turner. Starting Monday, Newhouse fellow Sarena McRae begins as the night cops reporter, bringing us back to full staffing at nights. Sarena just completed her fellowship at Syracuse, earning her master's degree. We hope to announce a new Cleveland Schools reporter in the next few days.

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