The exodus continues: Charles Laszewski leaves the Pi Press

class=img_thumbleft>After 25 years as a reporter at the Pioneer Press, Charles Laszewski is leaving the newspaper. He's accepted a job as communications director at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. May 19th is his last day at the Pi Press.

His departure continues a multi-year trend of talented editors and reporters leaving Minnesota's second largest daily newspaper. In recent years editors D.J. Tice and Dave Peters have crossed the river to the Star Tribune, as did columnist Nick Coleman. Other recent departures include editor Vicky Gowler, media critic Brian Lambert, columnist Steve Dornfeld, and music writer Jim Walsh.

Laszewski's most recent beat has been transportation. Prior to that, he worked on investigative projects. His 2001 six-part series on the mysterious death of Minnesota-bred missionary John Kaiser was particularly noteworthy. Last year Laszewski published his first book, Rock n' Roll Radical: The Life and Mysterious Death of Dean Reed.

Laszewski says that he's been contemplating leaving for a couple of years now. In part, he feels hamstrung by the restrictions placed on reporters in the name of objectivity. This tension surfaced during the 2004 election season when Laszewski was suspended for three days for attending a concert headlined by Bruce Springsteen that also served as a fundraiser for the presidential campaign of John Kerry.

"I was chafing under the old things that I used to always believe in, which was you can't be involved in much of anything," Laszewski says. "I was beginning to think that these were becoming too restrictive and there were things that I wanted to do as a citizen that I was just not being allowed to."

The veteran reporter is also concerned about the editorial and financial prospects of the Pioneer Press, which is in the process of being sold to the Denver-based Media News Group. "I just wasn't sure that I wanted to hang around much longer," he notes, "that it might be time for me to get a fresh start."

(And yes, that's a picture of Laszewski with Billy Bragg, courtesy of Jim Walsh.)