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What? The Rocky Mountain News Actually Hired Someone?

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With so many folks leaving the Rocky Mountain News of late, it'd be easy to assume that the paper is operating under a hiring moratorium. But no: The paper recently announced the hiring of two new staffers scheduled to start work next month. Here's the memo with which Rocky managing editor Deb Goeken welcomed them aboard:

Everyone: We will have two new colleagues joining us next month. Both bring extensive journalistic experience at newspapers, plus strong multimedia skills that they'll put to use on our Web site. They are aggressive competitors who know that there are many ways to tell a story well.

Wes Pope has accepted our position as multimedia photojournalist. Wes comes to us from the Chicago Tribune where he has been a staff photographer, multimedia producer and videographer for the last three years. Wes has distinguished himself with numerous awards from POY and NPPA during his career, including four of the top six multimedia awards in 2007. Before the Trib, he was on staff at The New Mexican in Santé Fe. Wes has also worked as a free-lancer and was part of the prestigious Chicago in the Year 2000 project, which is now part of a permanent archive at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is from the Seattle area, and is a graduate of the University of Washington. He will start on July 28 and intends to bring his fiancee, Kate, with him. They plan to marry in the late fall.

Judi Villa will be our first Web police reporter. Armed with a cellphone, a laptop, an aircard and a video camera, she'll cover breaking crime news and write and shoot enterprise stories off the cop beat. Judi was an award-winning police reporter at the Arizona Republic for 14 years and most recently worked as a field producer for KPHO-TV in Phoenix. She's been honored by APME for story of the year in 2004, first place in breaking news from the Arizona Press Club in 2006, an honorable mention in our own Nakkula Award judging, and many others. She is a certified wildland firefighter. Judi is a graduate of Arizona State University in Tempe. She and her husband, Mark, have two young daughters. She also starts at the Rocky July 28.

Clearly, web skills are paramount at the Rocky these days, as well they should be. It's a good sign that the tab is actively seeking journos with these qualities rather than simply letting attrition continue to strip the flesh from a venerable institution. -- Michael Roberts

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