My Work

(This page is outdated. Until I get around to putting some more recent examples in, see all of my recent stories here.) 

Social projects:

A Storm Still Felt (10/27/13)
The New York Times
One year later, trying to find people whose lives were still significantly changed due to Hurricane Sandy was made much easier through an on-site callout. We picked through hundreds of submissions to highlight these strong stories with additional reporting.

4:09:43 (04/22/13)
The New York Times
We sought to tell the stories of the people in an image of the Boston Marathon finish line at the moment of the first bomb’s detonation. Using a blog post and form, paired with creative social searching, we found four of the 19 sources for an interactive feature, including the lead story.

If TV Stations Won’t Post Their Data on Political Ads, We Will (03/20/12)
TV stations have detailed public data that’s accessible only by physically visiting the office. Broadcasters resisted efforts to put the files online. So we enlisted readers nationwide to visit their local stations, make copies of the files, then scan and email to us to post. Over 500 people were willing to contribute.

New York City in 17 Syllables (4/25/14)
The New York Times 
Just a fun one. We invited readers to write original haiku about New York City, and the result was this beautiful presentation.

ProPublica Patient Harm Community (Spring 2012)
Two reporters were investigating the harm that befalls people as a result of medical malpractice. As part of the reporting process, we created this Facebook group to surface sources and information, while at the same time providing a service to people who have been harmed.

(Disclaimer: I contributed to those projects but can’t and wouldn’t take sole credit for them.)

Traditional writing/reporting:

Deconstructing a myth:
Hashtags considered #harmful (03/26/13)
Nieman Lab
I demonstrated the mathematical futility of many hashtags, and argued that we should more carefully consider when we’re using them.

Auditing a media mistake:
False Joe Paterno Death Report Relied on Faulty Sourcing (01/23/12) 
Poynter Institute
The first detailed account of how a student publication prematurely reported Joe Paterno’s death, causing a ripple effect of false reports elsewhere.

Quick turn-around features:
Under guidance of pickup artists, men learn to pick themselves up (02/03/11)
This required two days of reporting at a conference of pickup artists. I probably don’t need to tease you further.

At Pun Competition, Bad Jokes but Good Company (06/06/13)
The New York Times
A quick scene story from a pun competition in Brooklyn. Because why not.

The Date Me, D.C. blogger lives a public life (01/18/11)
I originally intended this to be one interview in a bigger project, but wrote it up as its own story (further explanation here).

Reporting-based aggregation:
Stephen Strasburg surgery and Tommy John: Reaction from across the Web
I had aggregation duty when big sports news broke in D.C. A simple list of headlines would have been boring; instead, I pulled the best nuggets from each link, assembled them together into a cohesive narrative, and smoothed out the edges with my own insight and reporting.

Dissecting big, breaking news:
Droves of reporters put Amish in spotlight they usually shun (10/03/06)
The Patriot-News
I was one of our four reporters sent to the scene of the infamous Amish shooting, and was let loose to find an interesting angle. I simply realized here that any average person would be horrified if plopped in the middle of the media cluster.

Covering the 2008 Presidential election:
More than 20,000 enthusiastically welcome Obama to Penn State (03/31/08)
Kerry’s back in state that aided him in ‘04 to stump for Obama (04/07/08)
Democrats shift campaign focus to small towns (09/14/08)
Can McCain win in Pennsylvania? (10/17/08)
A must-win state / McCain, Palin to hit area again together (10/24/08)
Now, it’s all about winning Pennsylvania (11/04/08)
Obama’s strategy pays off in Pennsylvania (11/05/08)
I covered the Obama campaign during the general election in what was considered to be an important swing state.

Using social media as a reporting tool in the early days:
Virginia Tech shootings: Local students shaken, but fine (04/17/07)
Using Facebook and AIM, I was able to get eight photos and interviews with VT students from our area in the hours after the shootings.

Alumni want state to save the school that saved them (02/08/09)
I was called by 50 graduates after searching for them through Facebook and Twitter. That was obviously way more than I needed, so I was able to sift through for top-notch interviews. My reporting techniques on this story were covered by

From the college days:

It’s fun to look at where you’ve come from.

Many memorials, one day: As part of Penn State’s In-depth Reporting class, I flew to Mississippi and drove to upstate New York to tell the story of three towns who each believe they created Memorial Day, and how important that claim is to each town. Still one of my favorite stories.