It's always a kick to announce big hires, and this one is massive: Jay Root, an award-winning journalist who has set a standard for coverage of Texas politics and breaking news with The Associated Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is joining the Tribune's staff. Jay will beef up our investigative reporting, cover the governor's office and focus on ethics and public corruption with his trademark energy and tenacity. He'll be a welcome addition to our already stellar team.

A native of Liberty, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Jay was twice named AP Staff Writer of the Year, in 2008 and 2010, by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. Among his many notable recent stories: the expose that revealed how state rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, had been double-billing the state for travel expenses paid for by his campaign; an examination of Bill White's tax returns that raised questions during the 2010 election about a never-proven insider business deal while he was mayor of Houston; and the full accounting of spending by the state on Rick and Anita Perry's rental house in West Lake Hills. In previous years, he's covered Hurricane Katrina, drug-fueled violence in Mexico and the Fort Hood shooting.

Jay has been a reporter in the AP's Austin bureau since 2008. Before that, he spent 11 years in the Austin bureau of the Star-Telegram, serving the entire time as bureau chief. He has also been a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Houston Post.

"I am beyond thrilled to join The Texas Tribune," Jay says. "From the moment it launched, I have loved the Trib as an avid reader of Texas news. I can't believe I'm now going to get the chance to write and report for this revolutionary news outlet."

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We can't believe it either. We've all admired Jay, whose commitment to public interest journalism mirrors ours, for many years — and, quite frankly, hated competing with him. It will be a relief to finally have him in the home dugout.

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