Come this January's state legislative session, a familiar face in the Roundhouse press corps will grace the Capitol from a different position.
Barry Massey, who has been covering New Mexico's legislative process for the Associated Press for 21 years, has accepted a job advocating for the state's judicial system as the legislative liaison for the Administrative Office of the Courts and as its the public information officer.
Massey, who could always be counted on to show up at the Roundhouse wearing a bow tie, left a 35-year career at AP earlier this month. At the Roundhouse, he helmed news coverage under four different governors and carved a reputation for rapid reporting and deep policy analysis.
Trip Jennings, executive director for New Mexico in Depth, was one of Massey's reporter peers during recent legislative sessions.
"Barry is one of the best government reporters I've worked with over the years," Jennings says. "When it comes to the state budget, he's scary smart and his knowledge of New Mexico's tax code is unparalleled among journalists working in the state. He's aggressive too. The state's press corps has lost a huge asset."
Heath Haussamen, who also covered New Mexico politics for years, echoes similar praises.
"Barry's depth of knowledge of the state budget and other complex issues won't be easily replaced," Haussamen, deputy director of New Mexico in Depth, says. "I'll miss his understanding of state government and his professionalism."
Fresh out of college, Massey began as an AP desk editor in the Kansas City bureau in 1979. He covered the Kansas legislature in the early '80s before becoming a regional reporter in Washington DC. There, he covered issues like farm legislation and traveled with Bob Dole's failed 1988 presidential campaign.
He came to New Mexico in 1993. One of Massey's first duties, he expects, is to advocate for funding for two new district judge positions, among other issues this upcoming session. He starts on Dec.1.
"This is going to be a whole different experience," he tells SFR in an interview Monday. "One of the things I particularly enjoyed in Santa Fe was covering the state appellate courts. Now I will be dealing with those issues in a different way, but will still be involved in the judiciary."
Picture in the Tweet below from left are AP reporters Susan Montoya Bryan and Russell Contreras, Massey and former AP Bureau Chief Julie Aicher.