Austin Baird, KTUU’s top political reporter and one of the longer-tenured reporters covering the Alaska Legislature, has joined Gov. Bill Walker’s administration and will work as a press secretary.
Baird put in his notice with the television station this past Sunday. He said in an interview with The Midnight Sun that he’s been considering the move for the past few weeks and said he deliberately took himself off any assignments related to the Legislature or Walker, including Walker’s gasline announcement.
“I hope that in some small way my reporting over the past several years helped people make sense of this critical moment in Alaska’s history as it unfolds,” he said in a prepared statement. “Thank you to everyone who read and watched. Now, I’m excited to join Gov. Bill Walker’s team. Being on ‘the other side’ will be different, but my core goal remains the same: to give Alaskans an honest look at what state government is doing and why.”
Baird began covering the Legislature in 2012 (the same year your humble Midnight Sun editor did) with the Associated Press. He returned to cover the Legislature a few years later to cover the Legislature for KTUU, where he’s worked since.
Baird will begin on Dec. 18, and is filling a position left vacant by former press secretary Katie Marquette, who is now working for the Department of Health and Social Services. He’ll will work alongside Communications Director Grace Jang, a former KTUU reporter, and Deputy Press Secretary Jonathan Taylor. His annual salary will be about $110,000 a year, a significant increase for any reporter.
Amanda Moser, who formerly worked for the Anchorage Clerk’s Office, is currently filling in for the position. She, too, is a recent hire as a special assistant in the governor’s office.