PHOENIX >> The Associated Press has named Anna Johnson as regional news director for the U.S. West, a new position overseeing AP’s journalism and news operations across formats in 13 western states.
The appointment was announced Monday by Brian Carovillano, AP’s vice president for U.S. News. Johnson is based in Phoenix, AP’s regional hub for the West.
The job merges all text, photo, video and interactive journalism under one regional news leader for the first time in the United States, the first step in a reorganization that follows a similar restructuring internationally. The reorganized AP will be fully cross-format, with multimedia journalists and integrated editing desks that emphasize video and social media, along with a streamlined management structure.
“Anna is the best type of news leader — one who makes everyone around her perform at a higher level,” said AP executive editor Sally Buzbee. “Her commitment to AP’s news mission, her aggressiveness at aiming to make AP dominant on big stories and her strong communication skills make her the ideal person to lead the West operation through this process of change.”
Johnson has been based at the West Desk since 2014, first as deputy regional editor and then as acting regional editor. She has extensive experience as an AP reporter, editor and newsroom leader in the United States and in the Middle East.
Johnson, 40, an Illinois native, joined AP in 2004 as a reporter in Chicago. From 2006 to 2009 she was a reporter and editor based in Cairo, traveling throughout the region to cover Iranian elections, the Iraq war, Egyptian archaeology and Dubai’s economic boom, among other stories.
In 2009, Johnson moved to Chicago to be the assistant editor on the AP’s Central editing desk, where she was part of a team that won consecutive Associated Press Managing Editors awards for deadline reporting for coverage of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado and the shooting at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas.
In Phoenix, she has helped transform the West region into a center of innovation at AP, pioneering the use of social media as a reporting tool and leading efforts to generate more video for social and digital platforms. She was a key editor at last year’s Olympics in Rio, overseeing regular news updates on all top Olympic stories. She led coverage of the recent Oakland, California, warehouse fire and was a core leader of AP’s 2016 campaign and elections coverage.
“Anna’s form of leadership is positive and infectious,” Carovillano said. “She is ambitious, and approachable, and she understands better than anyone how to report and tell great stories that are insightful and visual and interactive.”
The AP’s West region encompasses news in 13 states: California, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.