AP Makes Changes to Its Washington Bureau, Names 3 to New Deputy Bureau Chief Roles

J. David Ake, Kathleen Hennessey and Elizabeth Kennedy are the three new deputy Washington bureau chiefs

From L-R: Kathleen Hennessey, J. David Ake and Elizabeth Kennedy.

When Julie Pace was named AP Washington bureau chief in June, the accompanying note from senior vice president and executive editor Sally Buzbee detailed a coming change to the leadership structure of the Washington bureau and the four new deputy Washington bureau chief positions AP would be filling.

Today, Pace announced three of the four staffers who are stepping into those roles, with J. David Ake being named deputy bureau chief for visual journalism and presentation, and Kathleen Hennessey and Elizabeth Kennedy each being named to a deputy bureau chief for newsgathering role.

Ake has been with AP since 1997 and had been assistant Washington chief of bureau for photography prior to this promotion. In addition to his current responsibilities overseeing the bureau photo staff, Ake will also be responsible for the Washington editing desk. When the fourth deputy, of video newsgathering, is named, Ake will work with that deputy to coordinate AP’s visual efforts.

Ake, writes Pace in a memo to staff, has “been a huge help to me personally as I’ve taken on this new job. He knows Washington as well as anyone, having directed photo coverage of the White House, Capitol Hill, Pentagon, State Department, and of course, several presidential campaigns. David is a creative and ambitious journalist. And if you ask anyone on his photo staff, they’ll tell you he is an exceptional person to work for.”

In her new role, Hennessey, who had this year received a promotion to White House news editor, will focus on both spot coverage and enterprise journalism for the White House, Congress and politics beats. “Kathleen is constantly striving to make our coverage better, and always thinking about how to push a story forward. Plus, she’s one of the best writers we have,” writes Pace.

Kennedy, who is making the move to the Washington bureau from overseas, where she has been news director for Southeast Asia, will be responsible for the teams covering the national security, law enforcement, legal and general beats, as well as the team covering the Trump administration’s connections with Russia.

Kennedy’s most recent role role was just the latest of a decade spent abroad, “leading AP news operations in Africa, the Middle East,” according to Pace, who writes that Kennedy “brings a wealth of experience running complex stories and a fresh perspective to Washington, as well as a deep understanding of how to leverage AP’s resources around the world and across formats.”

Pace also provided an overview of the bureau’s new structure. “For reporters and news editors, this means additional resources to help craft sharp leads and smart nutgrafs, brainstorm story ideas and talk through sourcing strategies,” she writes. “For the editing desk, I hope this is an opportunity to start new conversations about ways to leverage your considerable talents. And for the photo and video staff, this ensures the great work you do is part of every coverage discussion we have in the bureau.”