Meet Joe Tarr.
Joe Tarr is the newest member of the Isthmus staff, replacing Vikki Kratz, government and local reporter who left the staff in January to begin a career as an elementary school teacher. (You may have noticed her byline on an Opinion column last week as she challenged a state report on the disposition of a foster child who was later killed by a caregiver. Writing as a civilian, Kratz uses language and expresses opinions that she would have been prohibited from if she had been writing as an Isthmus reporter.)
A native of Erie, Pa., Tarr graduated from Penn State in 1992 with a B.A. in English. While there he worked at the campus newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and interned for two summers with small-town dailies. His first job out of college was at the Rochester (Minn.) Daily Messenger, where he covered the municipal courts and county government from 1992 to 1997. That year he entered the world of the alternative press, when he joined the staff of the Knoxville, Tenn. alt, Metro Pulse. There, he specialized in hard news and investigative reporting, while dabbling in entertainment writing. According to a reference there, he became the "go-to reporter" when the story required a straight, well-researched approach.
Since 2004 Tarr has pursued a freelance career, producing, among other things, scripts for a TV real-crime show, brochures, magazine articles, etc. In the interim he's also had stints as a copy editor and managing editor at papers in Anchorage, Alaska, and Cambodia. In 2008 he published a book, Patti Smith: Words and Music, billed as a critical appraisal of the rock icon's career. Tarr has also won a number of awards for his writing and reporting, including First Place in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' annual awards competition for his media reporting.
To meet Joe Tarr, go to "Madison.gov" to read his first contribution to Isthmus. We look forward to many more, and so should you.