Mike Oreskes and I have a double-barreled staff announcement today that spans both the domestic and international AP.
Let’s start with the U.S.:
The Gulf Oil spill has been an enormous journalistic challenge. A sprawling story, much of it occurring literally out of sight beneath the water. Every day AP journalists in every format have risen to the story and kept us well ahead. It is now clear this story will be with us, and with the people of the Gulf Coast, for a good long time to come.
So we are taking steps to set up for this long haul. The first is the appointment today of an Oil Spill Editor to supervise the coverage and to keep us thinking of new and creative ways to cover this continuing and continually important story.
We are fortunate to have for this mission Steve Gutkin, who for the past six years has been Jerusalem bureau chief. It would be hard to imagine a stronger track record of handling big, complex stories. But we don’t have to imagine because we have Steve.
Gutkin has reported from some two dozen countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas. As bureau chief in Jerusalem he lead AP’s coverage of such events as the Lebanon war, the Gaza war, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas’ bloody takeover of Gaza, the death of Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon’s stroke, suicide bombings, rocket attacks and the Obama-Netanyahu fight over settlements. Gutkin has served as AP bureau chief in Caracas, Singapore, Jakarta and Jerusalem. He covered the rise and fall of the Medellin and Cali cocaine cartels, rode into Kabul with a triumphant northern alliance and helped lead our coverage in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad. Gutkin provided newsbreaking coverage of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Indonesia’s al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, the Elian Gonzalez case in Cuba, the kidnapping and killing of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, and the failed coup attempt and subsequent rise to power of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
Gutkin has covered hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Mexico, an earthquake in Colombia and devastating landslides in Venezuela – in addition to a coup in Fiji and massacres in Colombia and Indonesia. He served as an editor on AP’s international desk in New York, where he also helped cover the United Nations. Before joining the AP, Gutkin managed a monthly business magazine in Venezuela, and he also reported for CBS Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Newsweek. Gutkin has served as chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, was instrumental in sharply raising AP’s revenues in Venezuela and Southeast Asia, and he spearheaded a major revamping of AP offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza City. He has a degree in international relations from Pomona College and a masters degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is married and has two young sons.
Steve will be based in Atlanta, reporting to the South editor, and supervising a corps of journalists assigned to focus on this story. He also of course will be the key contact for coordinate related coverage from other desks, bureaus and formats. He will begin in two weeks.
Internationally, the Middle East long has been one of the most difficult and challenging stories we cover and the AP takes pride in having the right people with experience and judgment who can navigate the shoals of its complex issues and deliver the news with balance, clarity and courage.
We have such a leader to announce today. Europe Editor Dan Perry is taking over as Jerusalem Chief of Bureau succeeeding Steve, accepting the challenge of leading our staff covering both Israel and the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza. He will report to the Mideast editor in Cairo.
For Dan, it is a return to a country and a city he knows well. He brings to the job a deep knowledge and understanding of Israel and the Middle East, at a time when the Israeli-Arab conflict in general has tremendous global resonance. He will lead a staff of more than 40 in a region of crucial importance for the AP.
Dan served his first stint in Jerusalem from 1988-1990 as a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. He the joined the AP in 1990 as correspondent in Bucharest, where he strengthened AP’s operations in Romania. He transferred to Israel in 1993 as correspondent in Tel Aviv. Four years later, he was named chief of Caribbean services based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, AP’s hub for dozens of nations and territories in the region. During that period he developed AP’s regionally-focused report from islands such as Jamaica and Trinidad, boosting AP’s local business. During his time as Jerusalem chief of bureau, Perry also served as chairman of the Foreign Press Association. He produced in-depth stories on Israel’s changing society and the Jewish settler movement _ and interviewed leaders on both sides of the conflict, including the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 2004 he went to London to establish a regional desk overseeing coverage of Europe and Africa. During six years as regional editor, Perry led coverage of stories ranging from piracy off the coast of Somalia to the Vatican scandals the European debt crisis of recent months, and drove coverage of terrorism, migration and Europe’s search identity in a changing world. He also implemented key transitions, such as working with counterparts in television and photos to create the AP’s multimedia newsroom at the Interchange, AP’s headquarters in London, and the creation of a regional desk in Africa desk in 2009. He also took part in social media experiments, including heading a joint project by major news agencies to host a social media site on global warming and climate change last year.
Dan won’t confine his attentions entirely to the Middle East, however. We also have asked him to assume an additional important role as special editor within the International department. His experience as regional editor puts him in a strong position to work with the departmental leadership on management issues, problem-solving and innovation, including intersections with technology, budgetary planning, security and developing in-depth coverage.
Please join us in congratulating Steve and Dan and wishing them all success in these new assignments.
John Daniszewski and Mike Oreskes