Sean Baker hadn't been looking to get back into journalism. After creating and running his own news website for almost a decade, he was ready to try other things. "I was burning the candle at both ends trying to stay on our coverage, while also managing the business of a small publishing company," he noted.

But when he learned of a new position the Star Tribune was adding in Rochester to cover southeast Minnesota, he jumped at the chance to get back into journalism. "I wrote in the application that there was no other news organization I would want to work for," Baker said. "And there is no other place I would rather be doing it than in Southeast Minnesota, where I have put down roots and am raising a family."

Baker, 33, grew up on Cape Cod and came to the Midwest for college. After a couple years in broadcast journalism, he started Med City Beat in 2014. He sunsetted the venture in early 2023 with a new wife and a child on the way. Get to know him a little better, and sign up for the weekday Rochester newsletter that will showcase his work:

Why journalism and why Rochester?

Maybe because I am an introvert, I need to be forced outside of my comfort zone. Journalism does that for me, day in and day out. I also enjoy the opportunities that come with talking with people from so many walks of life. It is a tremendous privilege — and responsibility — when people trust you to tell their story fairly and accurately.

As for my journey to Rochester, that included a couple of stops in TV news. What keeps me here is how well rounded the community is. It's cosmopolitan, yet neighborly. And while it may get knocked for its lack of nightlife, I have two kids now — and a little quiet is nice.

You've had an unusual path in journalism. Why did you start Med City Beat?

The short answer is I was 25 and had nothing to lose. TV had left a bad taste in my mouth, and I was eager to show that I had more to offer. Rochester turned out to be the perfect testing ground. When I started Med City Beat, it was a blog with 100 or so followers. I tried everything at first — breaking news, in-depth interviews, editorials, and more — as I built an audience and earned the trust of readers. Eventually, thanks to the contributions of dozens of students, interns, and freelancers, Med City Beat became a leading news source for coverage of business and government.

What were your favorite parts about it? Least favorite?

Originally, I loved the challenge of creating a new model of local news. I embraced new ideas and channels for journalism, from podcasts to social media to a content-based advertising model. I also learned the importance of building a two-way relationship with readers. Toward the end of my run with Med City, however, I grew tired of all the time it took to self-fund my work. Joining the Star Tribune means I will be able to focus exclusively on my reporting, and leave the publishing side of things to other professionals.

Talk about your break away from the business and why you came back?

I closed down Med City Beat in early 2023 when my wife was seven months pregnant. Doing so allowed us to take active roles in the early stage of our child's life, while taking shifts running the family business. (My wife owns a corporate gifting company in Rochester.) When I received a call from the Strib in January, we were just winding down our busiest quarter of the year. While I had not been actively thinking about a return to journalism, I knew this was an opportunity that does not come around every day. I am grateful my wife gave me the encouragement and confidence to give journalism another go.

What do you make of the Star Tribune's expansion into Greater Minnesota?

During a time in which so many metro papers are cutting staff, I love that the Star Tribune is thinking strategically about how it can expand its reach to new readers. I am especially pleased that the Strib has chosen to invest outside of the Twin Cities, where fewer people have access to reliable news. When a reader in Greater Minnesota can pick up a paper and see themselves or their community reflected in the coverage, they may be more willing to turn the page and hear the perspectives of someone living in another part of the state. I am optimistic the addition of new reporters across the state can play in a role in bridging a divide that plays out more in our political system than it does in everyday life.

What else should we know about you?

I have two boys; one is a toddler, the other (my stepson) is a teenager. Both present new challenges every day. I am originally from Cape Cod, Mass., but don't ask me if I know the Kennedys. (I don't.) I spend my free time enjoying the outdoors, seeking out new adventures, and discovering music decades too late. And despite being an avid Green Bay Packers fan, I still maintain friendships with fans of lesser teams.