An amazing memo. Also, anyone else of the opinion that Ju-Don Roberts has the best name at the Post?

The Universal News Desk we are creating is central to our efforts to edit and package stories, graphics, photos and videos in a way that will retain and indeed attract a far wider range of new readers on every platform  — web, mobile, print, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Key to this effort will be Deputy Ju-Don Roberts, whose knowledge of online news will help shape our efforts to grow on these new media platforms. In addition, we have recruited some of our best editors to join the Desk in five key areas.

* National Politics and Government — This topics team will be led by Tim Curran. His political savvy, strong news judgment and enormous editing talents will be critical as we push to dominate this area on every platform. Tim, a former editor of Roll Call, has a deep knowledge of U.S. politics and policy and guided much of our political coverage during last year’s campaign and since. In this new role, Tim’s responsibilities will extend to include serving as A1 editor on many Sundays, overseeing decisions for Monday’s paper. Tim will have two deputies, Eric Rich and Scott Butterworth.  As the Maryland editor in charge of police and court coverage, Eric has emerged as a real editing talent in the newsroom, overseeing the Post’s impressive coverage of the state police helicopter crash in Prince George’s County and the death in jail of Ronnie White. Scott, now A-section Night Editor, brings wide-ranging talents and on-target news judgment, together with a knack for smooth editing on deadline.

* National Security/ Foreign — This topics team will be led by Jason Ukman. Since August, Jason has led much of our economic-policy coverage, showing superb news instincts and wonderful editing talents. Before moving to Financial, he was an editor on Foreign, where reporters still sing his praises. Jason will be a strong partner for Cameron Barr, as the newsroom strengthens its coverage in the National Security area. Joining Jason will be Dan LeDuc, an assistant Maryland editor who previously was a deputy national editor overseeing the out of town bureaus and the Supreme Court. Dan is a strong line editor who has demonstrated numerous times his ability to untangle, polish and lift complex stories.  We will maintain a core Foreign Desk that will continue to assign and work closely with our reporters abroad, but the Universal desk team will handle much of the editing and oversee the creation of our international pages in print and digitally. An additional topic editor to handle many of the foreign stories will be added to this team in the near future.

* Economy/ Business/Health — This topics team will be led by Dan Beyers. The economics and business reporting team delivers a large volume of complex, highly competitive stories, and Dan’s deep knowledge of these areas, as well as his skills as a line editor, will be critical. He will also oversee the editing of Real Estate and Sunday Business with assistance from others. Kathryn Tolbert will be the Health and Environment topics editor on the team. Kathy, a smart, nimble editor who has been working closely with Health and Environment Editor Frances Sellers on the Health weekly for the past several months, will operate as a partner to Frances, handling daily stories and helping to coordinate work on the Health weekly. Financial Night Editor Mike Shepard will be Dan’s other deputy. Mike’s strong news judgment, his abilities under deadline pressure, and his deep knowledge of economics and business will be invaluable.

* Local Politics/Government/Courts/

Police – Vanessa Williams will head this team. Vanessa is a thoughtful and sharp editor, who can quickly spot weaknesses in stories, knows how to fix the problems, and has thought a lot about how local stories should be packaged and displayed to connect with readers. One of Vanessa’s deputies will be Anne Bartlett, who oversees Maryland government and political coverage. Anne, a sharp-eyed and aggressive editor, came to the Post in 2005 from the Miami Herald, where she edited much of the presidential-recount coverage in 2000 and stories on the state’s migrant crisis. Since coming to the Post, she has edited criminal justice, politics, Chesapeake Bay and the ongoing coverage of federal investigations into two Prince George’s senators. We will also soon be adding another editor to handle crime and court stories.

* Social issues and education – This team will be headed by Steve Reiss, whose ability to take potentially predictable features and turn them into surprising and probing pieces is well known. So, too, are his creativity, his curiosity about a wide range of subjects and his elegant editing. One of his deputies will be Elizabeth Ward, now one of Foreign’s best line editors. She edited much of Steve Fainaru’s private armies series and the series on women last year by Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan. Steve’s other deputy will be Victoria Benning, who has overseen much of our local social issues coverage. Victoria has edited many of the paper’s moving stories on the impact of the economic crisis on Washington area residents.

In addition to these topic desks, we are announcing two other additions to the Universal News Desk today. Sara Goo will become Day Editor and Vince Bzdek will become Night Editor. Sara, who will arrive in the newsroom at 7 a.m., will work with News Editor Scott Vance and our home-page crew, watching the wires and other websites to make sure we quickly push out alerts, stories, and information to multiple platforms. She will help edit p.m.-copy, blogs and graphics. After the morning news meeting, she will work with advertising to determine ad placement and space for each section. Overall her goal will be to make sure we are competitive on all platforms, and that nothing falls through the cracks. Sara’s ability to swiftly respond to news, multitask effortlessly, find solutions to a wide variety of problems and convince people to go along quickly make her the obvious choice for this job. Likewise, Vince is a natural choice for Night Editor, given his strong performance on the News desk, his knowledge of production, as well as his editing and reporting skills. Vince’s day will start at 2 p.m. His responsibilities will include making sure section-front stories, photos and graphics are selected by mid-afternoon, and overseeing copy flow. He will be the last set of eyes on headlines, important stories and packaging. He will be in charge in the evening after Liz or Bill leaves. He will help edit late breaking stories and make sure that the first edition closes on time.

Liz Spayd         Sandy Sugawara

May 21, 2009