My next step

Six years ago, after graduating from college, I wanted to get into journalism, and I didn’t particularly care where. I fired off applications around the country — upstate New York, the Louisiana bayou, Washington D.C., California and everywhere in between.

The first place that gave me an offer — about a month after graduating, and shortly after my parents had a conversation about the possibility of rent payments — was a tiny five-day-per-week newspaper in the remote town of Pierre, South Dakota. The Capital Journal offered the same opportunities many of the other jobs I was applying to: getting in at the ground floor at a daily newspaper where I’d do a little bit of everything. But it had the added bonus of being in a state capital, and so involved my favorite type of reporting: political journalism.

After nearly missing out on the job because an email got caught in my spam folder, I accepted, bought a car, loaded it full of my scant possessions and drove it to Pierre. It was the first time I had ever visited the city, and only the third time in my life I had entered the state of South Dakota.

I don’t remember how long I intended to stay in South Dakota on that day I moved to Pierre, but even when I’ve looked elsewhere, the best option always ended up being to stay in the Mount Rushmore state.

So after two-plus years in Pierre, I moved to the Rapid City Journal, and from part-time political reporting to being the main political reporter. Just under two years later, I moved across the state to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, as the full-time political reporter for the largest paper in the state. Each move has been a step up — a bigger city, a bigger audience and more chances to immerse myself in South Dakota’s fascinating politics. Despite being a complete neophyte when arriving back in June 2008, I’ve loved my time here and have grown tremendously as both a journalist and a person. But that time is now at an end.

It’s with both excitement and sadness that I can announce I’ve accepted a job as a political reporter at the Pioneer Press newspaper in Saint Paul, Minn.

This is a step up for me — a bigger city and a bigger audience, just like my past moves. But it also takes me back to those initial days of 2008: I’m moving to a brand new state, learning a new political climate and a new set of sources. Moreover, I know I’ll be stepping into some huge shoes: the spot I’m taking is being vacated by Bill Salisbury, a 37-year veteran of the Pioneer Press and the dean of the Minnesota Capitol press corps, who is retiring on Jan. 5.

Though it’ll be tough, I’m looking forward to the challenge and the competition in the bigger Twin Cities media market. (I’ll also enjoy covering a legislature in the city where I live, instead of having to spend months in a motel room every winter.)

It’s going to be a fast transition. My last day at the Argus Leader will be Friday, Dec. 19, and I’ll start at the Pioneer Press a few days later on Monday Dec. 22. I’ll be securing housing and moving my home while simultaneously diving straight in to Minnesota’s upcoming legislative session, which starts just a month from now. I can’t wait to get right to work, learn the ropes and put out the best, most innovative journalism I can.

I’m sorry to be moving on but am definitely richer for my time here in South Dakota. Thanks for six great years!