When I was on staff at daily papers, I covered hundreds of little stories. These days I can typically focus on stories that make a measurable difference in people’s lives.
SELECTED – CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Shadowproof – “Prosecution presented fairly strong murder case against Jason Van Dyke” In this post from the ongoing trial I ostensibly helped cause with my 2015 FOIA and column series, I enlist legal experts to evaluate the case against the officer accused of murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald.
The Guardian – “I filed suit for the Laquan McDonald Police video. Its mundanity shocked me.” In the six hours after this column went live, I gained 9,000 Twitter followers. To discuss the story, I remotely appeared on TV networks in more than a dozen countries around the world. I spoke on four Chicago- based talk shows in three weeks.
Al Jazeera – “Real Police Reform is Unlikely in Chicago.” My next column in the series described in greater detail what needs to happen in the city. The police chief was soon fired and the offending officer was charged with murder. No serving Chicago police officer had ever been charged with murder.
SELECTED – HEALTH AND SCIENCE
Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun – “Doctors say new pill law keeps some patients in pain” At the same time Radley Balko reported this story nationally, I focused on Ohio and a law the state legislature passed that limited access to prescription pain medication even for those patients with copious documentation. I uncovered a virtual “shakedown” by the state medical board, so the state AP awarded me an investigative reporting award for the work.
Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun – “Schools feel misled about ‘pink slime” I exposed the fact that meat producers were knowingly misleading schools about the quality of the beef they were selling them. As a result, dozens of schools across southern Ohio stopped buying meat from the lying companies.
Chicago Reader – “Tales from the CryptoParty” In this magazine-length feature story for the cover of Chicago’s alternative weekly newspaper, I explore the movement surrounding cryptography tools implemented by individuals to reclaim some digital privacy. (I had organized two of the first of these meetups three years earlier.)
If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the world of high-stakes journalist work with national security whistleblowers, which ideally features little-to-no electronic communication, I wrote about my time training to do that with some ex-spies in an anonymous suburban DC hotel. It was a cover story in the progressive mag In These Times.
To write a story about a wrongful conviction that put a man in prison for 20 years, I teamed up with my company’s veteran crime reporter. (I believe he had covered the original trial in 1991!) I scrambled to learn the man’s back story and arrived on the scene for his tearful meeting with family. I wrote the top 75% of the story.
I was the primary reporter in a small team to learn who was likely being surveilled–a politician’s daughter–by Chicago police when they slipped up and discussed no-warrant cell tapping technology over public police radio.
I wrote the cover story to the architecture glossy Green Building + Design when it teamed up with Passive House Institute U.S. to make an issue about the passive building standard.
When a house exploded in our sister paper’s coverage area on a Saturday, I hauled ass and my story made inside pages of USA Today and the Washington Post, in addition to other outlets, totaling “554 similar articles” on Google News.
I followed a family whose house was slowly killing them until they recognized a mercury spill. Here’s part two of three.
When activists were telling people to switch from banks to credit unions, I researched whether credit unions were actually better for society. Eventually we found a news peg and could tell the story.
My story about gross error in cause-of-death reporting was covered 9 weeks later by ProPublica.
I’ve reported on countless environmental gaffes and scientific phenomena. My story about mosquito disease testing was picked up by the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner.