The Associated Press announces additions to U.S. News team


In a memo to staff on Thursday, U.S. News Director Josh Hoffner announced two key hires to AP’s U.S. News team:

We are making more progress in rounding out the leadership team that will guide the U.S. news report into the future. I have two announcements to make today:

Kantele Franko

Kantele Franko is the new assistant news director for Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and Delaware. Kantele has been an administrative correspondent since 2021, helping to coordinate coverage in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She joined the AP as an intern nearly 15 years ago and has reported on some of the state’s biggest stories during that span, including mass shootings, hard-fought elections, an Ohio State University sex abuse scandal and work for the education team. She brings a deep knowledge of the territory having grown up in northeastern Ohio and spent most of her career there, and is ready to plunge into the new role. Kantele will remain based in Columbus.

Alina Hartounian

Alina Hartounian is our new U.S. assignment manager, for the late part of the day. In her impressive, more than 15-year AP career, Alina has handled a wide range of responsibilities. She has been a Nerve Center manager, a deputy editor for U.S. beat teams and a West Desk editor along with a company leader in social media newsgathering, production and standards. Her social media efforts helped lay the groundwork for the success we enjoy today and this next position will also allow Alina to put her creativity to use to drive the report. In this new role, Alina will work alongside national assignment manager Jill Bleed, who has the early part of the day, and weekend national assignment manager Nebi Qena to help our unified U.S. team surge the necessary resources at the biggest stories of the day to ensure success in breaking news. She will remain based in Phoenix.

Join me in congratulating Kantele and Alina!