The Washington Post’s National Editor Scott Wilson and Senior Politics Editor Steven Ginsberg shared the America desk reporter assignments in a staff memo today.
As the new year begins, the national staff’s America desk will grow by five reporters, strengthening our ability to cover breaking news outside the Beltway and to capture the swirl of hope, anxiety, competing values, demographic shifts and systemic barriers to progress that were at the heart of the recent presidential campaign. Those joining the America desk covered various elements of the recent election, and will now bring their experience and skill to bear on the imbalances that have shaped our politics and public life for the past several years.
Jose DelReal, who has spent the past year covering the Trump phenomenon, will explore the divide between rural and urban America. In a remarkable reversal of fortune, the nation’s largest cities have become magnets for money, innovation and young professionals, while its small towns and farms have become poorer, older, sicker and more resentful of urban elites. Jose will bring his powerful storytelling to this important subject, documenting how federal and local officials, businesses and cultural institutions are managing the challenges and opportunities of change. He will also cover the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Ben Carson and the Agriculture Department — which, in addition to setting farm policy, administers the food stamps program.
Mary Jordan, who memorably shed light on Donald Trump’s history as a Manhattan playboy, Melania Trump’s evolving immigration status through the years, and all of the foreign diplomats now flocking to Trump’s DC hotel, will spend 2017 exploring more deeply the grievances that led so many people to vote for radical change in Washington. In a yearlong line of coverage, Mary will examine this anger, and investigate the systemic changes in government, commerce and culture that have given rise to it.
Janell Ross, who has been writing on social justice issues for The Fix, will continue to cover race and the nation’s rapidly changing demographics as part of a new emerging America beat. With the country poised to become majority minority, friction is arising in sometimes surprising places. Janell will bring her restless intelligence to this new line of coverage dedicated to the subject of American identity. In addition to delivering takes on the news from Washington, Janell will also search out opportunities for on-the-ground reporting.
Vanessa Williams, who wrote insightfully about the mood of black voters as the nation looked to replace its first black president, will now focus on gender. The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina exposed a vein of misogyny lying close to the surface in American society. Vanessa will explore the fortunes and choices of women in this political climate, from conservatives who oppose wage parity to liberals scrambling to regroup following Clinton’s loss. She will also pursue stories about the new administration’s impact on women’s rights, paying special attention to decisions at HUD, HHS and Justice.
Katie Zezima, who has been tackling a wide range of political issues since her stint covering the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, will take on drugs, guns, gambling and vice. Katie is passionate about drug policy and wrote some of the earliest stories about the devastation of the opioid epidemic before joining The Post. On Team America, she will bring her expertise to that subject, as well as other facets of drug policy, including the growing business of legalized marijuana. Katie will also explore the nation’s gun culture, applying her knack for analysis to our coverage of gun crimes. And she will write about other forms of American vice, including an explosion in online and casino gambling, which pump billions of dollars a year into state budgets and the U.S. economy. Katie’s beat will include coverage of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.
William Wan, a Team America MVP as agile on big breaking news stories as he has been recording the cultural impact of the first black president, will launch a new beat focused on class in America. Class, especially the idea that we can overcome it, lies at the heart of the American dream. Yet it is also at the root of many of the public’s most enduring resentments. William will explore the cultural impact of class, mining that powerful, hidden fault line for stories about the sharp differences in how people are born, live, eat, worship, shop, vacation, educate their kids and grow old.
These reporters join Mark Berman, Sandhya Somashekar, Wes Lowery, Abby Hauslohner, Kevin Sullivan and Kimberly Kindy on the America desk, giving The Post its largest and most ambitious staff in years dedicated to covering the country. We’re very excited by the possibilities.