St. Charles Herald-Guide welcomes 2 reporters

The St. Charles Herald-Guide announces the hiring of reporters Anna Thibodeaux and Thomas Baker.

Thibodeaux brings more than 20 years of award-winning news writing experience to the Herald-Guide as a reporter with two former New York Times Co.  daily newspapers, The Houma Daily Courier in Houma, and The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She also worked as a writer and features editor with The Monroe Journal, a weekly newspaper in Monroeville, Ala., and as associate editor with Randall-Reilly Publishing’s former Modern Woodworking magazine, also in Tuscaloosa.

Thibodeaux’s newswriting has been recognized by the Louisiana and Alabama press associations, as well as won statewide and national awards for school tax referendum coverage at the Tuscaloosa News. She received the New York Times Chairman’s Award for her series on port development in South Louisiana and again for her series on the Black Warrior River’s future in Tuscaloosa.

A native and resident of Larose, Thibodeaux is a graduate of Nicholls State University, where she majored in communications with an emphasis in journalism. After working mostly in newspapers and magazines, she returned to Louisiana last year as outreach coordinator with Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group based in Baton Rouge, and recently returned to writing with the Herald-Guide.

“I am excited about joining the Herald-Guide,” Thibodeaux said. “A Cajun loves telling a good story and I look forward to telling St. Charles Parish’s story.”

Baker joins the Herald -Guide after relocating to the New Orleans area from upstate New York in April of 2014. A former EMT of 18 years in Boston, Mass., journalism is a second career for Baker, who at the age of 45 retired from the ambulance corps and enrolled in college in pursuit of a communications degree.

He enrolled Herkimer County Community College in his hometown of Utica, N.Y. in 2009. He graduated the class of 2011 with an Associate in Arts and Science degree- Radio and TV Production. He won a scholarship to Utica College of Syracuse University in 2011, due to his performance at Herkimer and continued on another two years to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.

“I always wanted to be a reporter,” Baker said. “I love the idea of going out and getting the story and informing the public of what’s going on, whereas, without us they’d be in the dark. I take it as a great responsibility to not just get the story- but get it right the first time, every time.”After graduation Baker took a job with the Waterville Times, a weekly newspaper in Utica. And while he found it a good place to work, he yearned for the calling of New Orleans. He had lived there for a few years as a young man and vowed he would return again someday.

“I’m a jazz man – I love the French Quarter, its music, its flavor and of course, wonderful food,” Baker said. “If I was going to be a journalist I couldn’t think of a better place to be one. Also, an old friend of mine lived here and when I looked her up to tell her I was going to be in town we discovered that we both had been thinking about each other for years. That clinched it-when I hung up the phone with her- my next call was to the airlines.”

After some time getting reacquainted, the two became engaged and Baker and his long ago girlfriend, Sue, set a date to marry this summer. He is looking forward to living in Louisiana and getting to know his new community of St. Charles Parish.

“This area is steeped in so much history,” Baker said. “I’m excited about getting to know this place and the people who live here. One of the things I learned about working in a smaller community from my time spent at Waterville Times is you make friends easier in a smaller community than you do in the big city. People come to know your first name, and you, theirs. They can really take you in and that’s quality of life.  I’m hoping to find exactly that by working at the St. Charles Herald-Guide.”

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