Reporting

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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 local or national outlet could.

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

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There's 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 presented at the most local of perspectives.

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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.

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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