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Glynn Wilson's Net Bio With Links
The central idea that drives our system is the notion - novel at the time it was conceived in the late 1700s - that human beings posses the intellectual capability to govern themselves, without the divine right of kings.
It should be obvious that for such a system of government to function there must be in place a mechanism for informing the public. Elections and public opinion polls are only a couple of the components needed for democracy to work. An unfettered press that is willing to put up the resources to report "without fear or favor" is absolutely critical.
While there are a number of choices to turn to these days for news - from traditional newspapers to Web sites to network and cable TV news to blogs - the point here is that experience really does matter.
One of the problems underlying the public's misperceptions of science and journalism has to do with specialization. It takes years, for instance, to master enough knowledge to really cover national politics or science.
Some reporters are good at research, but not so good at dealing with people and getting them to open up and talk. A lot of newspaper staff writers are just that. Writers. They can string sentences together in a readable fashion. But many of them need researchers and other reporters to gather and make sense of the facts.
It takes a different set of talents and skills to investigate and unearth corruption in politics or business than it does to write a news feature. Many reporters never master any of these things since most newspapers are filled with copy that is neither investigative in nature or even particularly well written.
When a publisher finds someone who can do it all, shouldn't they rise to the top?
This page is designed to show any editors or publishers lurking here that there is someone behind this page who can pretty much do it all. Saying it is easy, however. Perhaps this demonstration will be instructive, roughly working backwards through 26 years of experience around the news craft.
Wilson's articles, columns and photographs published on the Locust Fork News-Journal Weblog are also available for syndication. Contact Wilson for rates.
Business, Cops and the Courts
Early in 2005, I was contacted by a health and technology editor working for the New York Times' business section to assist in covering the fraud trial of deposed HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy. I worked with five editors and three correspondents before the trial and during the early stages. The first story was a national business/trial feature advance and ran Jan. 26 under the headline: Richard Scrushy Goes on Trial. (The corrections had nothing to do with my work and I was not allowed to check the final version).
After the staff handling the case felt up to speed on the issues and a lot of their questions were answered by my reporting, they asked me to cover some of the day to day coverage of the star witness. I wrote three byline stories three days in a row on deadline:
A Meeting on The Lake
Maneuvers With Numbers at HealthSouth
Ex-HealthSouth Officer Says He Faked Numbers for Chief
Then as the trial went on, I spent several days doing research for this larger feature:
Will the Real Richard Scrushy Please Step Forward.
The high profile church and state trial of Judge Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments had to be one of the most interesting stories to cover ever. I covered the verdict story for the New York Times back in the days before they gave credit to freelancers, but this story for The Christian Science Monitor, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2002, was the America Online Story of the Day:
A Trial Examines Whether a Judge's Decision to Display a Stone Tablet at a Courthouse Violates Church-State Divide.
This story came from covering the trial itself:
Ten Commandments Judge Continues Defiant Rebellion
And to prove I have what it takes to stand up to strong-minded and powerful public officials, check out this early blog post:
Reporter Ejected from Press Conference
I've also covered cops and the courts on high profile national issues like these stories on the Baton Rouge serial killer:
In Louisiana, Debate Over a DNA Dragnet
Civil Liberties Questions Raised in Louisiana Authorities' Search
Baton Rouge Jittery Over Serial Killings
While working out of New Orleans for four years, I also covered the infamous Canal Street Brothel Case.
I've also written book reviews, including this one on a book I'm actually cited in as an investigative reporter for my work in the days prior to the Internet: ABOVE THE LAW: Secret Deals, Political Fixes, and other Misadventures of the U.S. Department of Justice.
I've had the occassion to break a few stories in my time, including this national feature for UPI: Protests Line Up for Bush Inauguration and this story I broke on my old Web site at southerner.net, which got picked up first by the Village Voice and then a number of bloggers: FBI Report Questionable on Domestic Terrorists Blowing Up Media Trucks.
Sometimes you end up with a national exclusive breaking story just by being in the right place at the right time and keeping your wits about you and realizing what's important: Giuliani Reveals Thoughts on WTC Site.
Sometimes you can have some fun doing a national news feature about a national political issue: C'est Dommage: French-Bashing Dismissed in New Orleans.
Other times, you can really have an effect on the outcome of political fortunes. I did a significant amount of research on this story for the New York Times and got a sizable paycheck, but was never credited. So I did my own byline version of the story for the The Christian Science Monitor: One Foot in the New South, Two in the Old: Sen. Trent Lott's Comments Dredge Up the Past.
I've also done a couple of stints with States News Service out of Washington, D.C., and written a number of byline stories for The Hollywood Reporter, a 25,000 circulation trade paper covering the politics of the entertainment industry. Here are the links to a few clips, although unfortunately, if you want to read them you will need a password, which I can provide if you e-mail me.
Bipartisan Anti-Piracy Bill Gets Unanimous Senate OK
Court Overturns FCC Caps
- Alternate Free Link
Senate Bill Targets Net Piracy
Senate Votes to Jack Up Indecency Fines
Sachs Resigns as Top Cable Guy
Senate Committee OKs Satellite Bill
Family Time on The Hill
Election-Year Challenge for Nets
MPAA Creates PSAs to Stem Net Film Piracy
Movie-Filtering Legislation Could be Introduced
Clear Channel Agrees to $1.75 Million FCC Fine
Kerry Hits Media Consolidation
One of my most significant investigative projects also involved national politics. I wrote this story on contract for a New York magazine, but broke it online when I knew every news organization in the country would be on it in a few days after Michael Moore called Bush a deserter at the press conference in which he endorsed Gen. Wesley Clark for the Democratic nomination for president: George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama. Pieces of this story were also picked up by a number of news organizations, including the Village Voice and Time magazine, as well as author Kitty Kelly in her book on the Bush family - and about 800 bloggers.
Before that I broke this story in the New Orleans alternative weekly along with a former student from Loyola University New Orleans, where I taught journalism for two years: Happy Hour Debate on How to Take Back the White House in 2004.
Which brings us around to one of my long-time specialties:
Science, Health and the Environment
This is the last story I wrote for the Dallas Morning News New Orleans bureau before moving in December, 2003: Louisiana Marshes Face Rising Gulf, No Thanks to Global Warming.
Sometimes terrorism and the environment overlap: Hydrofluoric Acid Makes for 'Danger Zone' Around Plant.
I've also covered legal issues that relate to business and the environment from a Washington, D.C. base, including this most recent story on July 15, 2004, for The Gary (Indiana) Post Tribune: Power Plants Face New Round of Air Pollution Lawsuits.
At times, the military has to be challenged when it comes to environmental policy, and you get lucky enough to share a page one Sunday byline in the New York Times with another great writer: Burning of Chemical Arms Puts Fear in Wind. This is especially rewarding if you also broke a big story on the same subject years before: Nerve gas incineration back on Congressional front burner in light of base closure decision.
Sometimes disaster strikes and a specialty in science really comes in handy:
700-Pound Rocket Engine Tracked by Radar
Lessons From Lili: National Weather Service Hurricane Specialist James Franklin Reveals How Much We Know and Don't Know About Hurricanes
Experts Worried About Marshes
New Orleans Voodoo Wards Off 'The Big One'
Louisiana Town Acts to Squash Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus
Sometimes levity is in order even when the environment is at stake. Who could write about Nutria and not laugh at least a little?
What's Furry, Hungry and Wanted by the Law?
Sometimes you get to spend some quality time out of the office and in nature looking for endangered species:
Feathered Treasure: Birders Flocking to Find Whether Endangered Species is Extinct
Taps for Woodpecker? Search Team Not Sure: No Ivory-Bills Spotted Despite Sounds, Markings
Or learning about another culture: Roy Gaudet, 74, Started Crawfishing When He was 9.
Sometimes politics and the environment overlap: Environmentalists regroup to consider their options in an increasingly hostile climate and put the state DEQ on the front burner.
Sometimes you get go to wide open on an alternative weekly cover story:
Not So Clear-Cut: Logging companies say the milling of Tennessee's forests is good for the economy and the environment. Critics challenge them on both counts.
Breathing Room: The battle over new ozone restrictions pits asthma sufferers against skeptical industry leaders.
Or a brain science conference comes to town and the Doctor's Guide to the Internet calls: Clips from a Neuroscience Conference.
Regional and Local Politics
I've also done my share of covering regional and local politics since I first started reporting for the Crimson White in 1981. Here are a few examples from New Orleans and Alabama:
Mayor Nagin's 'Honeymoon' May be Over; an edited version appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 6, 2003: Failed Endorsement May Get in New Orleans Mayor's Way.
A New Style and Tone for Louisiana Politics
Alabama Vote Roils Alliances and Stirs Moral Quandaries
Louisiana Senate Picks Prayer Fight in Cultural War
Battle to Clean Up the French Quarter Pits Artists Against Psychics
The New South Rises, Again: Alabama Gets Its First 'New South' Governor
Historical Events, Civil Rights and Culture
Sometimes you get to cover anniversaries of significant historical events, this one with a bit of a science angle about the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase: The Deal That Made an Empire.
Some news organizations treated this story as a joke. Not I:
Shreveport Bishop Seeks Diversity, $5 at a Time
Church's Offer to Pay 'Had Definite Impact'
Sometimes you get to travel to forbidden foreign lands and live to tell about it: Forbidden Sister City: Ending the Cuban Embargo Could be a Boon for the Southeastern Economy.
Every once in a while you get to meet someone famous and do a long news feature about them:
Gennifer Flowers Letting the Good Times Roll: Clinton's Former Flame Opens Piano Bar in New Orleans.
Then, at times, you may find yourself in a situation where you just have to jump out of the boundaries of objective journalism and say what you think:
NY Times' Stringer Defends Use of Freelancers
Connecting the Dots
Under The Microscope
Years of Experience
It is a bit difficult to point out to editors and publishers why many years of experience matters, even if you don't have a degree from Harvard or Yale and all of your experience is not with a nationally known newspaper. In the early days of the Internet, one of my students at Loyola asked one day how to put up a Web page with clips not available in any online database. It was a good question, so I put up this page with some of my early work scanned from old newspapers.
Old Clip Archive
While these clips are only a tiny fraction of the articles I published between 1981 and 1997, there are a couple of things worth noticing. One is that I covered a courthouse early in my career, which gave me an education in covering the law. Another is that I had a "nose for news" early on - the instincts to break stories and beat the competition.
Then, I was one of the first reporters in the country to develop a specialty in covering the environment as a beat. And while many reporters dream of having an effect with their work, it would be hard to imagine more success than my part in mothballing the EMPRESS II or the reporting that led to a permanent injunction against the oil companies from dumping their drilling waste from oil and gas wells in state coastal waters along the Gulf of Mexico.
And you may notice that there is no dam on the Locust Fork River. Ask me to tell you the story sometime about how the Birmingham Water Board was stymied in that effort.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s I wrote a column called The Beach Beat. The stuff I did on the first Gulf War was as good as anything written on the New York Times op/ed page at that time.
If you are an editor or a publisher and like what you see and want to hire me on a free-lance basis or syndicate articles, columns or photographs, the best way to get in touch is my new high speed e-mail address: fast2write (at) charter (dot) net. Or call my cell phone: (205) 960-3639. I am a professional in the truest sense of the term. You won't be disappointed with the work.
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