Taking Command  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   December/January 2005

Taking Command   

Rob Karwath leaves the Chicago Tribune for the top newsroom job at the Duluth News Tribune.

By Kim Hart
Hart is a graduate student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.     


When Rob Karwath belatedly applied for the top job at Minnesota's Duluth News Tribune, he discovered that even the news business sometimes rewards latecomers.

Karwath, 40, the Chicago Tribune's associate managing editor for business coverage, vaulted to the front of a pack of nearly 200 applicants for the executive editor position at the News Tribune, a Knight Ridder paper with a daily circulation of 46,182.

"I think having someone of Rob's caliber will mean nothing but good things for Duluth," says News Tribune Publisher Marti Buscaglia. "He is somebody with [a] business background and very strong journalistic integrity and principles, and I think that combination is absolutely what's needed in today's newsrooms."

While hiring Karwath was an easy decision for Buscaglia, it was more difficult for Karwath to bid farewell to the Chicago Tribune, where he started as a summer intern in college and stayed for 19 years. But the News Tribune's ability to provide the town with information that "knits the community together" grabbed his attention. "You measure a newspaper based on the impact that it has," he says. "The paper is aggressive; it's ambitious, and it's doing the right things."

The location also appealed to Karwath. Although his journalism career flourished in Chicago, much of his childhood was spent about 80 miles east of Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior, where his family has vacationed for more than 60 years. He has spent winter and summer holidays there, learning to ski and enjoying the outdoors. He had dreamed not only of leading a newspaper but also of living near the lake year-round with his family. "The prospect of getting to live both my dreams at once is kind of amazing," he says.

Andrea Novel Buck, the News Tribune's managing editor, says her paper is focusing on providing more local news to increase readership. Karwath's business acumen, she says, "will help to grow circulation" and attract new groups of readers to the paper. "He has the long-term vision and experience to make those things happen."

Those sentiments are echoed by Chicago Tribune Managing Editor James O'Shea, who calls Karwath a "team player." O'Shea adds that Karwath has the ability to oversee the coverage of a wide range of stories and "really cares about quality news...I think he will bring a real dedication to their mission."

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