Telling Stories  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   December/January 2004

Telling Stories   

By Jill Rosen
Jill Rosen is AJR's assistant managing editor     

Instead of crafting in-depth features for the Chicago Tribune, Robert L. Kaiser is now helping reporters at the San Antonio Express-News shape their own pieces.

After just over six years at the Tribune as a reporter, much of that spent specializing in projects and magazine pieces, Kaiser joined the Texas paper in September as assistant managing editor/news and its first writing coach.

Kaiser, 41, says the "air of possibility" at the Express-News and its "hunger to do good work" intrigued him. Plus he and his wife were eager for an easier-going and more affordable way of life than they had in Chicago, particularly with an 18-month-old and another baby due around Thanksgiving. "Those objectives dovetailed with what was a wonderful opportunity here," he says, adding that he's impressed that in these economic times, a paper has put such a value on writing.

"Writing is my first love," says Kaiser, who spent two months traveling around the United States after September 11, writing stories about how the attacks changed--or didn't change--American life. "It is what we do as a newspaper that will ensure into the foreseeable future our survival; it is one thing we do that makes us indispensable."

At the Express-News Kaiser is working one-on-one with reporters and planning writing-oriented brown-bags and seminars. Though he was nervous to give up his own bylines, Kaiser says the change to editing has been "incredibly rejuvenating."