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Prominent Washington Post journalist leaving to partner with Starbucks

Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran is leaving the storied D.C. newspaper for the other Washington to embark on a media project that will tackle social issues in collaboration with Starbucks.

“I’m not doing this so they can sell more cups of coffee. What we’re doing is trying to play a positive and constructive role — and broaden understanding across the country around issues that matter to our nation,” Chandrasekaran said in an interview.

Chandrasekaran, a former Post bureau chief in Baghdad, is well acquainted with America’s foreign wars.

His new venture is an outgrowth of a collaboration last year with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on a book about U.S. veterans.

His new company, to be based in Seattle, will produce nonfiction TV documentaries and other forms of media creating “social impact through creative storytelling,” said Chandrasekaran, who is a senior correspondent and associate editor at the Post.

This surprising turn in the career of a well-known journalist underscores how Starbucks, tightly led by Schultz, is becoming an increasingly visible player in social and political issues beyond the realm of its core business of providing a “third place” for coffee lovers. The economic and psychological condition of veterans returning from America’s foreign wars is one of its top priorities, and a particular concern for Schultz.

In addition to promoting “For Love of Country,” the book Chandrasekaran and Schultz wrote together, the company last year has vowed to employ thousands of veterans and military spouses in its sprawling coffee shop empire.

The move is also a reminder of how Seattle companies are growing tentacles into the world of media. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the newspaper Chandrasekaran works for in 2013.

“I’m essentially moving from the orbit of one Seattle-based businessman to another,” Chandrasekaran said jokingly.

Chandrasekaran has been at the Post for more than two decades, starting as a 21-year-old summer intern in 1994.

In 1998, he covered the antitrust case against Microsoft. According to a Washington Post memo announcing his departure, then-publisher Katharine Graham had him explain directly to Bill Gates’ friend Warren Buffett why the software giant was being pummeled at the trial.

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