Reporting

WaPo_flag.png

A team of reporters and freelancers at The Washington Post, including myself, interrogated a narrative about those thousands of Americans who were arrested by police in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. I interviewed sources, analyzed data and wrote several sections of this story.

WaPo_flag.png

Stay-at-home orders had a disparate effect on violent crime rates between majority-Black and majority-White neighborhoods, according to this Washington Post analysis of 27 cities around the nation. I helped gather sources, analyze citywide data and model trends for this public safety data story.

AU_logo.png

This podcast pilot I pitched about unique gravestones and the human stories they hide now serves as a model for alternative storytelling methods in a college journalism textbook.

00:00 / 12:23

This interview with American University anthropologist David Vine is part of a larger series of research Vine conducted in cooperation with the Investigative Reporting Workshop and Brown University. It revealed, for the first time, data that points to the enormous human cost the U.S. War on Terror has waged in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

WaPo_campus-care_photo.png
WaPo_flag.png

This yearlong Washington Post investigation introduced me to the field of data journalism. I was honored to work alongside award-winning data reporters like Steven Rich and Andrew Ba Tran to form and analyze the first ever college health center database and to help lead the fact-checking process to ensure its validity.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 3.04.54 PM.png
WaPo_flag.png

My first breaking news article for The Washington Post, I got this tip from working sources on an entirely different beat. After pitching the story to general assignment and working with a contract reporter, I managed to lead the reporting process from start to finish and break the story before any other local or national outlet.

WaPo_flag.png

Local unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis meant that local reporters would need an hour-by-hour account of arrests as they occured for on-the-spot reporting. As a part of the practicum team that had already been tracking arrests in D.C., the newsroom relied on my ability to track down arrest reports nationwide for web and daily reporting.

WaPo_antifa_pic.png
WaPo_flag.png

After the killing of George Floyd this year in Minneapolis and the protests that broke out in its wake, The Washington Post practicum team was tasked with compiling a database of arrests in the 50 largest cities in the country. That database informed The Post's national and local reporting on the unrest. 

Toolville_43_open-e1580749785751_edited.
Bee_flag.jpg

One of the reasons I was excited and honored to be named the 2019–20 Invesitgative Reporting Workshop graduate reporting fellow was the strong partnership the nonprofit newsroom had established and fostered. This yearlong investigation The Fresno Bee published in partnership with the IRW uncovered a deepening division of clean water access for poor people of color in California's San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere in the Golden State.

I had the exciting opportunity to put my video editing skills to task working alongside a team of features videographers at The Weather Channel for a piece on which the Investigative Reporting Workshop had partnered with the organization. The story was part of the IRW's ongoing nationwide water quality and justice analysis.

imrs.jpeg
WaPo_flag.png

As part of my ongoing practicum studies at The Washington Post  — and a relationship I fostered with the General Assignment desk there — I joined a team of incredible reporters telling the unique stories of people the region had lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This ongoing series chronicles the local tragedies and brings a human element to the numbers we've all grown used to seeing and reading about in the news.

Part of my ongoing duties at the Investigative Reporting Workshop include tracking President Donald Trump's immigration policies and how they've changed over the past four years. 

sondland-hearing3-1024x731_edited.jpg

There was no better time to be studying investigative reporting in Washington, D.C., than amid an impeachment fight that roiled almost all the levels of government. American University's School of Communication gave me incredible access to Capitol Hill, where I reported on the ongoing impeachment drama.

 Supreme Court
AU_logo.png

I had once considered seeking a degree in law after graduating with my bachelor's degree, but I felt more fulfilled reporting. Still, I've always been an avid reader of Supreme Court reporters like The Washington Post's Robert Barnes. When the opportunity to cover a few Supreme Court hearings of my own opened, I lept at the chance.

Image by Matteo Modica

Part of living and working in the nation's capital means coming to grips with the violence that plagues many parts of it. What made this story for TheWash.org different was how violence had impacted a part of D.C. not so used to it — and how the residents who lived there had taken it upon themselves to do something about it.

Handgun and  Ammunition
AU_logo.png

In the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, my public affairs reporting class was tasked with introducing the political element of the story without overlooking the raw, human emotion. By staking out the press gallery for more than a week, I learned when the victims of that violence would come to Capitol Hill — a perfect opportunity to marry the two reporting concepts.

trust.jpg

An early assignment of mine at the Investigative Reporting Workshop was to highlight an embargoed Pew Research Center report on trust as a part of the American lexicon. Why is trust important? It's a basic building block, experts allege, upon which citizens place their lives in the hands of public officials and organizations — those same people and organizations that so often become the focus of powerful investigative reporting.

Water Birds
AU_logo.png

Pursuing my master's degree at American University, situated in the heart of our nation's capital, I had the opportunity to test my skills as a political reporter. This story attempts to tell a compelling political narrative without devolving into a he-said-she-said debate.

Chemical Plant
AU_logo.png

I have long believed that the meeting or hearing a reporter covers is rarely the story in and of itself. Rather, it takes a keen eye and a nose for news to derive what the story behind the meeting or hearing really is. This example of political reporting I wrote while studying at American University does just that. 

imani-vDQ-e3RtaoE-unsplash.jpg
MI_flag.png

When a chilling discovery thrust the quality of a public utility's drinking water supply into question, it became clear that fair and accurate coverage required more than just one story. I wanted to include these two stories among my writing samples for two reasons, however: Not only do they represent a long series, but they illustrate how that coverage can sometimes become the story, no matter how hard you try to prevent it.

TVA_photo.png
MI_flag.png

The Paradise Fossil Plant near Drakesboro, Kentucky, was a fixture along the Green River in western Kentucky for more than 50 years. It inspired a hit John Prine song and supported a thriving local economy. This series for the Messenger-Inquirer explained its eventual demise as the Tennessee Valley Authority sought to reshuffle its energy portfolio.

Image by Daniel Tafjord
MI_flag.png

I would venture that event coverage or advances don't often make a reporter's writing-sample cut. This is a rare exception. When a source approached me about getting something in the newspaper's calendar section about some upcoming housing events, I took a mundane tip one step further. After all, there is almost always a deeper story to tell.

Image by Paul Green
MI_flag.png

Stories sometimes come together for an investigative reporter piece-by-piece. Operating on a tip from a confidential source, this one left me determining what kinds of negotiations were taking place between a local nonprofit and a venue management company and just how much control that company may ultimately have.

00:00 / 15:14
Image by Maarten van den Heuvel
MI_flag.png

Once open records request documents revealed that the city was negotiating a deal with a local museum that could mean its move from a historic, downtown location, it was critical that I frame that story in the proper context: part of a larger effort to lower city subsidies and liquidate real estate.

00:00 / 16:23
Image by Lewis Parsons
MI_flag.png

Stories that matter are rarely ever told in just one edition. This is one part of an award-winning series I wrote and produced via the "Inquire" podcast about an effort by the city of Owensboro to avoid lawsuits regarding general access to food trucks downtown while keeping promises officials had made to restaurant owners there.

00:00 / 14:10
MI_flag.png

Sometimes, the true depth of a story doesn't become apparent until the research and fact-checking stages of the reporting process. This story came to my attention when a county clerk handed me a document he had received via email from state regulators. Upon investigating its authenticity, a complex web of controversy with many, distinct sides came to my attention.

Image by Sharon McCutcheon
MI_flag.png

Especially in the weeks and months after the 2016 presidential election, the future of Barack Obama-era legislative victories, namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, were thrown into question. It's difficult for readers to truly understand the impact of complex stories like that unless they are told from the perspective of their neighbors, friends and loved ones.

Image by Soroush golpoor
McN_flag.png

When you immerse yourself in rural western Kentucky, it's hard to ignore the impact the coal industry has on people's lives. Severance taxes drive public spending and the job market buys groceries at the corner stores.  

Image by Sven Schlager

On the western edge of one of the country's largest national recreation areas, Murray has its fair share of Land Between the Lakes news. When an age-old power dynamic between parks officials and former residents sparked over logging rights, I wanted to the chance to put environmental news in a more palatable perspective.

Image by Nick Nice

Working with a talented team of professional radio producers, this documentary explores the places, people and power that is the western Kentucky coal industry. Set apart from the perhaps more illustrious eastern mountainous coal fields, coal miners and coal companies have reshaped economies from deep underground.

Image by Ben Wicks

Kentucky's court-appointed special advocates play a critical, behind-the-scenes role in ensuring children don't fall into the cyclical trap of an overloaded family court system. They often work tirelessly and entirely on their own time for the benefit of the lost and forgotten children.

© 2020 by Austin R. Ramsey