The Associated Press named Julie Pace as Washington bureau chief on Monday and announced plans to bolster it’s coverage of the ongoing Russia investigation and intelligence matters.
Pace, 35, joined the AP a decade ago and most recently served as chief White House correspondent. In recent years, she’s become one of the news organization’s most recognizable faces through regular appearances on television news shows and will continue reporting on Donald Trump’s presidency in her new role.
Buzbee described Pace as “the right person to lead this team as the Trump administration rocks the nation and the world.”
The Washington bureau chief job has long been one of the most influential in the capital, given that the AP’s politics and policy coverage runs in newspapers and websites throughout the country.
But the bureau has lacked a permanent bureau chief during a critical period period beginning shortly after Trump’s shocking presidential victory and through the news-saturated, crisis-driven first months of his administration. Wendy Benjaminson has been serving as the Washington bureau chief on an acting basis after Buzbee was promoted from that post to AP’s executive editor in mid-November.
As Pace moves into the bureau job immediately, one of her most urgent tasks will be stepping up coverage of the investigation into links between Trump associates and Russia surrounding the 2016 election.
The AP has had some successes on the overarching story, including breaking the news in April that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s consulting firm had received payments from a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party. But overall, it has lagged behind competitors such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, both of which have been battling for scoops and the AP’s investigative talent.
The Post hired AP reporter Jack Gillum last month, while the Times scooped up reporter Eileen Sullivan last week. Sullivan was a member of the AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team that also included Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, both of whom work in the Times’ Washington bureau and have been deeply covering the Russia story.
The AP not only has be concerned with The Times and Post, but outlets such as CNN and Reuters also have been regularly advancing the Trump-Russia story with scoops.
Buzbee, in her memo, said the AP plans to “move additional investigative reporting resources onto the Trump-Russia story to provide more firepower” in the short term and post two additional full-time jobs in the coming days.
Pace is highly regarded in the bureau and the move marks a generational shift for the news organization. But it’s not without risk, given that Pace has never managed a large operation and also plans to continue reporting and writing. She’ll have help, though, as Buzbee announced a new structure that’ll feature four deputy bureau chiefs
“Our commitment to this bureau is strong and intense ― and will not waver,” Buzbee said. “We are excited by the challenges ahead, and by the team we’re assembling to attack them. Julie and the entire Washington operation have our full support ― and the deepest promise to do everything in our power to win on this story.”
This article was updated after the AP officially named Pace bureau chief.