Star Tribune names Rene Sanchez as editor

Star Tribune senior managing editor Rene Sanchez will take the reins of the newspaper starting Friday, the company announced today.

Sanchez said in a statement that he’s honored by the challenge of succeeding former editor Nancy Barnes, who announced last month that she was leaving the Star Tribune to lead the Houston Chronicle.

“I’m fortunate to have a newsroom filled with great journalists who are committed to doing excellent work for our readers,” Sanchez said. “Our coverage of the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area, of Minnesota and of the region is strong, and we will strive to make it even stronger.”

Sanchez formerly supervised the paper’s news coverage and worked on investigative stories and projects, according to the Star Tribune’s website.

He came to the Star Tribune as a reporter in 2004 following a 17-year stint at the Washington Post. After a series of promotions, he became managing editor in January 2008.  The Star Tribune said Sanchez helped lead the investigation into local home daycares that won the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year.

Publisher Mike Klingensmith said both internal and external candidates were being considered for the editing position.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a journalist of Rene’s caliber here in our newsroom and he is a natural choice to become our next Editor,” Klingensmith said in an internal email to staff. “It has been my pleasure to get to know Rene over the last few years and I greatly look forward to continuing to work together to build a bright future for our company and to serve our community with great journalism in the years ahead.”

Sanchez  led a reorganization of the newspaper several years ago. The revamp included greater emphasis on local reporting and digital publishing.

The paper shed about one-third of its staff to layoffs and buyouts from 2007-2009, although there haven’t been any layoffs in at least three years. The paper filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

In a statement, Newspaper Guild co-chairs Janet Moore and David Chanen wished Sanchez luck in the new assignment.

“We look forward to working with him to craft a productive, progressive relationship between the union and management,” they said.

The Star Tribune is the state’s largest news operation, with 265 full-time journalists, according to the company. Wayzata Investment Partners is the Star Tribune’s majority owner.