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Why would one of the world's finest reporters join Starbucks?

February 27, 2015 13:05 IST

Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone, based on his days as the Washington Post's correspondent in Baghdad. It was made into a movie, starring Matt Damon.

One of the senior-most Indian-American journalists has crossed over to the digital world.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, currently an associate editor at the Washington Post, posted his Twitter page: 'Big personal news. I'm leaving @washingtonpost to form a media co that will create and produce social-impact content w / @starbucks.'

Elaborating on this on his Facebook page, Chandrasekaran said, 'Friends, some very exciting news to share: I'm leaving The Post after two decades to form a small media company based in Seattle that will create and produce nonfiction, social-impact content, some of it in partnership with the Starbucks Coffee Co.'

'My initial focus will be to develop television and film projects tied to For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice, the book I wrote last year with Howard Schultz.' Howard Schultz is the Chairman and CEO, Starbucks.

'I'm heartbroken to leave The Washington Post, but this is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'

The new venture is an extension of the book collaboration between Chandrasekaran and Schultz; the book was published in June 2012.

The project's 'initial focus will be veterans' issues,' Chandrasekaran told the Columbia Journalism Review. The condition of US military veterans and their families has been of great concern to Schultz, who has made it a mission to employ them in Starbucks outlets across America.

Chandrasekaran also wrote Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone, based on his days as the Post's correspondent in Baghdad. It was made into a movie, starring Matt Damon.

Chandrasekaran joined the Post as an intern in 1994, and over two decades held a range of designations. He served as bureau chief in Jakarta, Cairo and Baghdad, became a national editor and assistant managing editor.

In an interview to the Seattle Times, he said, 'I'm not doing this so they can sell more cups of coffee. What we're doing is trying to play a positive and constructive role -- and broaden understanding across the country around issues that matter to our nation.' He told the Columbia Journalism Review that the 'idea was pretty embryonic.'

The Seattle Times quoted a Starbucks spokeswoman as saying the new media venture is expected to start after Chandrasekaran's last day at the Post, Monday, March 2, and that 'the partnership will initially focus on developing content and stories associated with our veterans hiring initiative and the book.'

'We expect him to collaborate on other social-impact initiatives with us through his new media company,' she told the newspaper.

Chandrasekaran will move to Seattle, on the American West Coast, from Washington, DC, on the East Coast, to be close to Starbucks as well as Silicon Valley, the financial hub for many start-ups.

Interestingly, the Post's current owner, amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, is also Seattle-based.

'I'm essentially moving from the orbit of one Seattle-based businessman to another,' Chandrasekaran told the Seattle Times.

'This is not going to be PR or marketing work,' Chandrasekaran told the CJR. 'This is Starbucks and Howard Schultz recognising the power of storytelling and wanting to help contribute to the national understanding around a set of key issues.'

Apart from this, he said, 'I will also be engaged in some of my own personal projects that will likely involve, over time, writing additional books and also my own involvement in the television space.'

Image: Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Photograph courtesy his Facebook page.

The Rediff News Bureau / Rediff.com
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