I’ve been a journalist since there were manual typewriters in newsrooms, and now I practice and teach online journalism, Web publishing and design and digital storytelling.
This blog is mostly about the news business and journalism. It represents my own thoughts and opinions, because I’ve seen a thing or two over the years.
Newspapers I’ve worked for include the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Vineland Times Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Times Herald, the Mesa (Az.) Tribune, the Phoenix New Times, the San Francisco Examiner, the Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News. My freelance work has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to the Auckland (New Zealand) Herald.
Mostly, I’ve had a hellova good time.
I once scaled a 6-foot-tall chain link fence in high heels and a skirt to get into a locked cemetery to cover the exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald’s body. I had such good sources inside federal agencies that it only took 15 minutes for me to find out that in a morning briefing during the GOP convention in 1984, the Secret Service Agent in Charge of the Dallas office had specifically ordered the agents not to leak any more information to me. The next year, I was privileged to be on a team of reporters at the Times Herald who were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for our coverage of plane crashes and aviation safety.
And then I did the most best thing I’ve ever done for myself: I quit my job and moved to Phoenix to marry an editor. He is the love of my life and my partner in all things.
In 1987 I was the first reporter in Arizona history to obtain and publish secret grand jury transcripts in a cocaine case involving members of the Phoenix Suns basketball team. Thanks to Arizona’s shield law, I didn’t have to go to jail to protect my sources. I went on to develop a specialty in writing investigative financial exposes on people including Michael Milken, Charles H Keating and George W. Bush. (Don’t take my word for it, read what CJR said about my work here.)
In 1999, I “went to the Web,” as they said back then, and signed up with TheStreet.com, where I eventually became a managing editor. I edited columnists on three continents, and on Sept. 11, I was on AIM with a columnist in the North Tower of the World Trade Center moments before he was killed in the attacks. For the rest of that week, I published TheStreet.com from my home office in San Antonio after everyone evacuated our offices at 14 Wall Street.
From 2003 to 2006 I ran MySanAntonio.com, the converged Website of the San Antonio Express-News and KENS 5 TV. We did a lot of wacky things, including creating a Hurricane Katrina news blog that I joked was the world’s first interdenominational, multimedia hurricane blog, because the posts were done in video, still photos and text format from newspaper reporters, photographers and television meterologists. When Hurricane Rita rolled weeks later, I organized the major Texas news Websites to share a single survivor database (courtesy of AdPay’s servers and software), so we could make it easier for people to search for each other than it had been during Katrina. For once, it was simply about helping people, and not about competition.
In 2006, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, for which I had two major surgeries and radiation. I saw my friend Molly Ivins for the last time that summer. My cancer was gone, but hers had come back.
Molly, who was kind enough to credit my work in her book, Shrub : The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, was one of many magnificently generous teachers I’ve had over the years.
From 2006-2008 I again had one of the best jobs in the world: I was a visiting professor at UNLV, infecting the next generation of journalists with my enthusiasm for the news business.
Now I’m home in San Antonio, where my husband and I run an online publishing and consulting business, WilCharMedia. I’m also the head Online Instigator and Rapporteur at a grand community journalism experiment called NOWCastSA.com, and each semester I get to teach the course formerly known as Print Journalism at St. Mary’s University.
What a deal! Do you believe they pay us to do this?
I like to say that this is how it would have been if I had lived …
P.S. — The dude looking down from the top of the page is Berkeley the red Dobie, who tries to watch over me with help from Portia, the Westie.