Betting on myself

The first nine years of my career were fairly linear: I started work for a small newspaper in a small town, and every two years or so, I would move to a better job in a bigger paper in a bigger city. Then, last September, I took a sharp left turn. After three years writing for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, I accepted a buyout offer and resigned. It was a bet on myself: that with my talents and experience I’d end up in a better place.

Now, after a few twists and turns, I’m happy to announce I’ve reached that better place. Next week I’ll be starting an amazing new job as a data journalist with CityLab, the Atlantic Media-run news site dedicated to covering the world’s cities.

With CityLab I’ll make maps, charts and fun interactives, and dive into data for both my own projects and collaborations with the impressive writers already on staff there. I’ve enjoyed CityLab as a reader for years, especially for its deep and serious discussion of interesting ideas. That made it stand out as I considered my next steps, and I’m excited to contribute to that discussion and help strengthen it with data and graphics.

This is still a bit of a left turn from my past career, where I was paid to cover politics. But I’ve been headed in this direction for years, from the days when I was merely the resident newsroom Excel expert to teaching myself how to code to working almost exclusively as a freelance data journalist since leaving the Pioneer Press. I’ll still write and report, but crunching numbers and making interesting graphics is where my journalistic passion lies now.

My Minnesota friends don’t have to worry about this new job: I won’t be going anywhere. Though CityLab’s offices are in New York City and Washington, D.C., I’ll be working remotely from my home in St. Paul! (I’ll also visit D.C. regularly, for my friends there.)

Thanks to CityLab for the opportunity, and to MPR News, APM Reports, HuffPost and my Kickstarter backers for helping to support me over the unpredictable past year.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for more regular updates about my new job.