National Investigations

USA TODAY

Rigged: Forced into Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing.


Retail giants enable trucker exploitation. Powerhouses such as Target, Costco benefit while drivers plunge into debt

 

Narrative

The Guardian Long Read

Sticky Fingers: The Rise of the Bee Thieves

Bees have become a billion-dollar business. But who would try to steal them?

Univision

For undocumented immigrants, it's easier to donate a kidney that to receive one

At least 1,500 of the 2.7 million undocumented people in California suffer from renal failure. The symptoms and constant need for medication make their lives an exercise in resilience. This is the story of how five men – connected by turns of fate and profound acts of charity – tried to work around the kidney transplant system to save one another.

 

Florida Beat Reporting

Naples Daily News/USA TODAY Network

Fla. brush fire destroys two homes as flames close I-75

How Trump won Florida

More than 350 immigrant teens still barred from Collier County public high schools

 

Podcasting

IRE Radio

Wards of Neglect

What happens when a state cuts $100 million from its mental health budget? Reporters from the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent 18 months finding out. Their Pulitzer-winning investigation exposed deadly violence in Florida's mental hospitals, where staff shortages, regulatory fumbling and years of neglect were, for years, hidden from the public eye

White Coat Criminals
 

A team of journalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered a nationwide phenomenon of sexual abuse in the medical community. Thousands of doctors, many still practicing, had a lurid history of sexual misconduct, their crimes hidden from the public. 

Profiting from Prisoners

Prisons have long posed a challenge for investigative journalists. And when you’re trying to report on a private prison – one owned by a company, not the government – the situation becomes even more challenging. 

 

Data Analysis

National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting

College Scorecard Simplified

Earlier this year, for the first time ever, the Obama Administration released a comprehensive intersection of student population, college performance and “outcome” data, measuring with precise detail who gets into what school and what they do after graduation. But the Department of Education’s raw “College Scorecard” is a labyrinth of information covering some 7,800 campuses all over the country, broken down by almost 2,000 different variables – everything from enrollment demographics and SAT scores to repayment rates and post-graduate earnings.

Today, NICAR is offering a simplified, Excel-ready version of the database – College Scorecard Simplified – along with a data dictionary and step-by-step guide on how you can analyze data specific to your beat and start reporting.

 

Local Investigations

KQED & Bay Area News Group

Accusations and Money Fly as Chevron Spends on Richmond City Council Race

A Chevron-funded campaign committee has blitzed the streets of Richmond and the airwaves and Internet in an effort to stop Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s bid for a City Council seat in November. But city invoices, council documents, and expense reports say there's hypocrisy there.  

What does Chevron have to gain from big spending in Richmond elections?

Chevron has poured millions into a campaign committee to influence Richmond’s mayoral and City Council elections, and the unprecedented spending has fueled questions about what the oil titan hopes to achieve with the best city government its money can buy.

Does Richmond's Election System Fairly Represent All Residents?

Low turnout appears to advantage a small group of highly engaged voters and well-connected politicians. Incumbents, slate members, and seasoned politicos play musical chairs in Richmond, a preservation of the status quo enabled by a fatigued, indifferent, and often absent electorate. 

New American Media

A Model for Police Reform

In the past decade, the police department in Richmond, Calif. has undergone a dramatic transformation. Spearheaded by an openly-gay and white chief in charge of policing this largely African American and Latino city, the changes are now bearing fruit, with crime down and trust between officers and the residents they are meant to protect on the rise. As departments nationwide look for ways to improve community ties in the wake of police killings in Ferguson and New York, Richmond stands as a promising template. 

Richmond Confidential

The Hacienda housing project was declared uninhabitable. Why are tenants still living there?

The troubles at the Hacienda housing project were made public in February. The Richmond Housing Authority promised a tenant relocation in April. The initial application was sent in May. It’s now October—and mice still crawl at residents’ feet and cracks still spider up the walls.

 


Tech Reporting

CNET News

Need Weed? Now you can get pot delivered to your door

California’s loosening laws are making it easy for on-demand services to deliver marijuana to patients stuck at home.

Tech money drives San Francisco building boom, pushes others out

As part of Road Trip 2015, CNET looks at how new skyscrapers are defining a new era in the City by the Bay. The winners: tech. The losers: pretty much everyone else.

Vietnam's refugees find second chance in Silicon Valley

For Road Trip 2015, CNET went to San Jose, California, to talk with Vietnamese Americans who traveled a long way to get to where they are today.

Adobe rolls out an extended paid leave program for new parents

Software maker to begin offering new mothers up to 26 weeks of paid leave from their jobs, following similar policy updates made last week by Netflix and Microsoft.

Uber drivers will have to wait a bit longer to learn if they can join lawsuit

More than 160,000 drivers could be joining lawsuit for employee status against the ride-sharing giant.

Federal agent pleads guilty to corruption charges in Silk Road case

A former DEA agent admits to pocketing more than $100,000 worth of bitcoins that he solicited from Ross Ulbricht, founder of the online bazaar for illegal drugs.

Fitbit shares soar in opening day trading

Healthy demand for Fitbit's initial public offering is a sign that consumers will keep buying fitness bands even when they have the option to choose more feature-packed wearables like the Apple Watch.

What could Apple buy with all its cash?

Thanks to the success of the iPhone, Apple has nearly $203 billion in cash. That could go a long way.

Gone in a flash? Facebook says Adobe's plug-in is a security risk no longer worth taking

Steve Jobs' 2010 appeal for a Flash-free world echoes again from Facebook and from Firefox maker Mozilla after revelations of just how vulnerable Adobe's animation software actually is.

Where the tech elite go to eat

For Road Trip 2015, CNET uncovers where tech workers -- everyone from programmers to CEOs to venture capitalists -- line up for lunch in downtown San Francisco.

Apple's new warranty will replace your battery before it's half dead

Once the battery of your shiny Apple gadget falls to 80 percent of its original power, the company will replace it.

New Facebook logo goes slim for your smartphone

The company has changed its iconic wordmark to reinforce the importance of mobile devices and to give the logo a more "approachable" feel.

Even Apple and Facebook can suffer from a bad rep, report says

It's not just products and services that can color a company's reputation. How it handles sensitive issues can also affect public perception.

Facebook plays catch-up with launch of new image uploader

Competing with apps like Snapchat and Line, the tech goliath's iPhone app adds stickers, colorful overlay text and more to its photo-editing tools.

eBay gives investors a date for PayPal's independent market debut

The e-tail giant will be separating its online payment and commerce companies in mid July. Shares will be split, tax-free, right down the middle for current shareholders.

For these girls, tech is a rewarding challenge

An international tech competition targets Silicon Valley's diversity problem, aiming to inspire girls around the world into taking up -- and sticking with -- technology.

Teaching kids to code, using Minecraft's building blocks

Young Minecraft architects can now start getting an education in programming while they play the popular 3D video game.

Google to shut the door on 'revenge porn'

The Internet powerhouse says it will take steps to clean "intensely personal and emotionally damaging" images from its search results.

Apple Watch could gain video camera in 2016, report says

The second generation of Apple's wearable could also wean itself more fully from the iPhone.

 

 

Visual Storytelling

Oakland North

Peaceful Tuesday night Ferguson support march erupts into vandalism in the Temescal area

A second night of protest against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, began peacefully Tuesday afternoon, but later turned aggressive. 

Richmond Confidential

Blocs apart: how violence undermines protest goals

Reporter Brett Murphy spent time covering the protests against police violence in Berkeley and Oakland. He shares his thoughts along with a video. 

Weekend marches turn violent as Berkeley protests police killings of unarmed black men

In reaction to the recent non-indictments of police killings of unarmed black men, hundreds marched throughout Berkeley Sunday night. 

Oakland protestors take to the streets in sympathy with Eric Garner case

Demonstrators took the streets of Oakland to rally against another grand jury non-indictment.

Black Friday protestors demonstrate at Hilltop Mall

More than 200 fair labor protestors greeted shoppers going into the Walmart at Hilltop Mall on Black Friday.

Street scenes: on the front lines during Oakland’s second night of protest

A second round of violent protests shook Oakland Tuesday night in response to a Missouri grand jury’s decision

Still rising: Rubicon Bakery’s amazing run

Once a struggling nonprofit, Richmond's Rubicon Bakery is now a thriving business and loyal local employer for those who need it most.

NIAD Art Center: A Working Family

An art center in Richmond has been bridging artists with disabilities and the community for 32 years. The walls are colorful, and the people more so.

Voice of small business: Ali Amaro | Art Jewelry & Objects

A grandmother’s pearl, a eucalyptus branch, and a centuries-old bead washed ashore off the coast of Mozambique, all entwined with deliberate intricacy. “Jewelry can tell a story in many ways,” says Point Richmond jeweler and metalsmith Ali Amaro.

RPD Ride Along: Night on the Richmond Beat

Officers Brandon Ruffin and Jennifer Cortez patrol the central beat, an area comprising Richmond’s inner city and high crime Iron Triangle neighborhood.

Richmond volunteers valiantly participate in Coastal Cleanup Day

Droves of cleanup volunteers came by land and sea to comb the jagged rocks, sand and grass of Richmond Bay Trail for the 24th annual Coastal Cleanup Day Saturday morning.

Picnic in the Point, a perfect afternoon for kids and parents

Picnic in the Point brings together families and friends from all over the East Bay. The sun was out, and so were the smiles.

Volunteers in Parchester Village build park, and community

With assembly line efficiency, more than 300 Richmond residents—from Point Richmond to the Iron Triangle—came together to rebuild Parchester Park on Saturday.

 

Business Reporting

Richmond Confidential

23rd Street merchants welcome RPD’s “john-shaming” campaign

Prostitution has long been a fixture on Richmond’s 23rd street business corridor. Until recently, police have focused on taking prostitutes off the street. But now they are launching a new tactic. In an effort to undercut demand, police are focusing on “johns.” 

Sister cities, in name if not in deed, edge closer to a true financial kinship

Two weeks ago a Zhoushan business delegation visited the port, and this time they came to do more than shake hands.

Urban streetscape improvements to connect Civic Center to BART

A $7.7 million construction project is scheduled to break ground in the center of downtown between the BART station and the Civic Center this spring.

Proposed tax hike draws support, criticism, but little community response

After fifteen minutes, when it was clear nobody was coming to fill the twelve empty chairs in a conference room in Hilltop Mall, members of the city’s finance department packed up their presentation materials. They said turnout at the other meetings has been similar.

Developer looks to build massive, affordable apartment complex off 23rd Street

A private developer proposed what may be one of the largest apartment complexes in Richmond to a uniformly encouraging but cautionary planning commission on Thursday.

Three years away, but Richmond ferry plans steaming forward

The project’s two vessels will cost an estimated $34 million total in “initial capital expenditures,” with an estimated operating costs of about $3.46 million. 

 

Magazine Writing

Pitt Med Magazine

The History of Disease in Color

In a concerted effort (involving 200 million keystrokes and probably a few paper cuts), Pitt’s Project Tycho has digitized cases of 56 infectious diseases in every U.S. state and territory before, during, and after vaccination licensure from 1888 to today. The database is helping scientists understand contagion. ...

What If? Really Hard Questions, Answered by Machines

Modeling in medicine is not just convenient, it also has profound implications, if you ask Yoram Vodovotz. “The conscious mind can’t handle more than a few things [at once],” he says. But modeling gives you “the best of both worlds—the rational process that comes out of your conscious mind, integrated with the ability of your unconscious mind.” He and others here at Pitt are answering some really hard questions in silico. ...

NEXTpittsburgh

What's Next for East Liberty? 

For the past decade-plus, a remarkable transformation has occurred, fueled by two community plans and the addition of major anchor retail. Walk around East Liberty today—with cleared lots here and loud and active construction sites there—and you get the idea that much more is on the way. ... 

Three Cool Web Shows

Who better to give voice to creative talent than creative talent? Meet three ambitious guys who are taking to the Internet to showcase innovative people in Pittsburgh and their creative projects. ...

h Magazine

River Crews    Finalist in the 2014 Golden Quill Awards, Science Feature

A hands-on biology lesson aboard an environmentally “green” ship as it sails Pittsburgh’s rivers isn’t just a unique educational field trip. It’s also a testament to the value of philanthropic and corporate support when state funding for special programming starts drying up. ...

Shady Ave Magazine

What Lies Beneath

It's been said that most important part of a gravestone isn't the name, the masonry, the occasional epitaph, or even the dates that speak so much to the promise of birth and the finality of death--but the dash in between the numbers. That tiny dash contains every morning roll out of bed to every flicker of a lamp at night. It's the story of life. ...

Pitt Magazine

Stargazers

Perched atop a city hillside, the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory dominates the landscape in Riverview Park. With its towering ionic pillars, three impressive domes, and chiseled frieze of astronomers’ names, the neoclassical basilica exudes both mystery and majesty.The only physical legacy of the observatory’s origins in 1861 is the still-operating Fitz-Clark Refractor. But the spirit of discovery remains as strong as ever at this historic scientific landmark. ...

Pop City Media

Leah Lizarondo of the Brazen Kitchen

A colorful silk headscarf wraps around her head, tucking back her dark hair. There’s a tattoo—that roughly translates into her older kids’ names in Philippine—swirling around her left shoulder. At five-foot-nothing, with a calm walk that’s more like glide, Leah happens to be one of Pittsburgh’s busiest writers and most fervent food activists. And her journey to the kitchen was anything but expected. ...

MeetUps: A Fun, Low-Stress Way to Get Connected

Moving to a new city can be a daunting experience, even for the most outgoing of us. When Laura Zurowski, a writer and social media consultant, moved from Poughkeepsie to Pittsburgh, she found that she wasn’t displaced necessarily, but overwhelmed by the opportunities the city has to offer. ...

Pitt Chronicle

Innovation Challenge $300,000 in Prizes

Three separate proposals on innovations to treat pressure wounds, monitor Parkinson’s symptoms, and support smoking cessation were each awarded $100,000 and project-management support in the University of Pittsburgh’s inaugural Pitt Innovation Challenge. ...

Provost Advisory Panel Selects 10 Proposals for Innovation Awards

The University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence has selected 10 teaching proposals to fund under the 2014 Innovation in Education Awards Program. The proposals range from mobile apps to engage students in large-lecture science classes to incorporating digital media in the humanities. ... 

We Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly

A repurposed excerpt from the spring 2013 Pitt Magazine story "Stargazers"

TNT Magazine

Articles I curated and edited in the TNT daily newsroom here

Prevent Summer Scurvy: A History of Grog 

The name doesn't sound too delectable, but grog, a crisp take on a classic drink, has made its way ashore and to our BBQs. ...

Munich: The Quirky Underbelly Visitors Often Miss

Steeped in history, and packed with museums, castles and festivities unlike anywhere else in the world, Munich is as unique as it is eclectic. But if you’re tired of the trite, and want to experience the culture from a perspective other than Marien Square, check out these quirky travel tips. ...

 

College Newspaper

The Pitt News

Adderall an Illegal Study Aid, Causes Potential Addiction

It’s finals season, and the first floor of Hillman Library buzzes with distracted college students. But among the socialites, a junior stares unblinkingly at his computer monitor, hammering at the keys. ...

Winter Blues: Look for Light During Dark Days

An alarm clock rings, only to be immediately shut off. A freshman rolls to the other side of his bed and away from the sliver of sunlight that’s made its way into his room. Second and third alarms will ring with the same failure to interrupt his hibernation. ...

Sex Edition - Whips & Chains

Most got it during a long car ride. Your dad decided to fill the silence with a dreaded parenting milestone — “the talk.” And, chances are, he left the chains, handcuffs, collars, ball gags and whips out of the birds and the bees. But behind many bedroom doors, from college campuses to CEOs’ penthouses, “alternative” sex rocks the headboards. ...

Anthony Wallace Recognized by University of Pittsburgh Press

Anthony Wallace, author of “The Old Priest,” has a complicated relationship with the Catholic Church. “I really like the part [in the book] where the priest thinks he changed into a goat after taking mushrooms,” he said...

Pitt Recycles Its Way to Top in Big East

Pitt resides near the top of the Big East in a number of sports, and at the moment, it dominates the conference in recycling, too. ...

Campus Groups Work to Celebrate Black History

Despite a last-minute scheduling and funding scramble, Pitt’s student groups are now one step closer to concluding their activities to honor Black History Month. Along with several other Pitt groups, Black Action Society hopes to use the month to educate other students about black culture. ... 

Film Review: '12 Years a Slave'    2014 Keystone Press Awards First Place, 2014 Columbia Scholastic Press Assoc. 3rd Place Entertainment Review

Film Review: 'Rush'

Film Review: '42'

Film Review: '21 & Over'    2013 Columbia Scholastic Press Assoc. Certificate of Merit

Film Review: 'Hitchcock'

Film Review: 'Warm Bodies'

Film Review: 'Rise of the Guardians'