More awards. New assignment.
This year has been surreal. I won the Casey Medal. I won the James Batten Award for Public Service. I won the Livingston Award; my entire career, I’d aspired just to make the list of finalists. I’ve spent all year thanking my editor and photojournalist story partner on “In God’s Name.” At the Livingston, which honors journalists under age 35, I made a point to give mention to a few young people myself. I interviewed about five dozen of them last year, in varying degrees of intimacy. Some risked a lot to talk to me. Gay kids opened up about being sent away by their families. Those who said they were raped gave permission to use their names, feeling it would lend more credibility to their stories. A college student reopened old wounds and recounted in painstaking detail the worst days of his life, even giving me permission to reach out to his mother, because he knew good reporting meant I had to hear her reasons for sending an honor student to an unlicensed home where he almost died. They didn’t do it so I could win awards. They did it so that other kids could be spared. I keep getting phone calls and e-mails from parents, thanking me for helping them make better decisions. I couldn’t have done it without these kids.
Another exciting development: I’m now an official member of the Tampa Bay Times investigations team, whose notable recent work includes this project on America’s Worst Charities and this analysis of Stand Your Ground that continues to be cited by national news outlets as an authority on Florida’s controversial law.
I’m working on something good with a very smart reporter. Stay tuned.