Barnes said the paper and website will stay committed to aggressive journalism and develop new ways to reach readers.
A former reporter who rose through the editing ranks of newsrooms from Massachusetts to Minnesota over the past two decades was named editor and senior vice president of news at the Star Tribune on Wednesday.
Nancy Barnes, 45, a deputy managing editor at the newspaper since 2005, will take over March 5 from Anders Gyllenhaal, who is leaving after nearly five years to be the editor of the Miami Herald.
"It is truly a great privilege to be the next editor of the Star Tribune," Barnes said. "This is a newsroom that is blessed with many talented journalists and people who care passionately about this business."
Barnes, who will oversee the newsroom's 370 employees, added, "It has never been more important for us, as journalists, to stand up for what we believe in: aggressive, quality journalism and the rights granted a free press in this country."
In announcing her selection, Star Tribune Publisher Keith Moyer described Barnes as a gifted, fiercely competitive journalist who "gets things done" and is ideally suited to lead the paper, which is the 12th largest in the country.
"She brings a mixture of good ideas and kick-ass editing," Moyer said. "She's consistently shown that she gets where papers are at and where we need to go."
Barnes, who began her journalism career in 1982 as a news reporter in Lowell, Mass., becomes the editor at a time when newspapers are facing formidable new challenges such as the migration of readers and advertisers to the Internet.
The Star Tribune also is in transition. It is being sold by the McClatchy Company to Avista Capital Partners, a New York-based partnership of former investment bankers. The sale, announced in December, is expected to be completed in early March, said Chris Harte, a member of Avista's executive advisory board and a former Knight Ridder publisher. Harte will act as chairman of the board of directors at the Star Tribune.
He said that after meeting with Barnes, "I was impressed by her energy and her thoughtfulness. She has the drive to take a very, very good paper and keep making it better."
Barnes said an immediate challenge will be to develop new ways to reach readers through the Star Tribune's website, in part by relying more on storytelling that includes video and audio.
At the same time, Barnes said, it is crucial for the paper and website to stay committed to the kinds of aggressive, public-spirited journalism that has long defined many newspapers. "Now, more than ever, it is critical that we develop content that stands above the generic news of the day," she said.
She is the first woman to be editor of the paper.
Barnes was born in Cambridge, Mass., and grew up in Virginia. She graduated in 1982 from the University of Virginia with a bachelor of arts degree in international relations and later earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has worked as a reporter, copy editor, assignment editor, Sunday editor and business editor. Before she was hired as assistant managing editor for business at the Star Tribune in 2003, she worked as the Sunday editor for the Raleigh News & Observer.
In 2005, Barnes was promoted to a deputy managing editor position at the Star Tribune, supervising the paper's investigative and projects work and the content for the Sunday editions. She later also assumed responsibility for overseeing metro coverage and news polling.
Barnes is married to Sam Barnes, who is editor of the Star Tribune's weekly West section. The Barneses live in Eden Prairie and have three daughters.