Monthly Archives: April 2011

Border crossing photo from

Four years after 9/11, fifteen busloads of United States students from Champlain, New York, headed toward the border for a weekend ski trip. For weeks the Canadian authorities had been putting out bulletins advising travelers to expect delays at border crossings because of increased security. That morning, the delay at Lacolle crossing, Canada’s largest port of entry, was already two hours.

The buses got to the border around 3 a.m. – Only three of the 15 buses had been searched four hours later. By 9 a.m. only two more had been completed.

I’m guessing it was sometime during the search of the sixth bus that the tour organizer threw a fit. He contacted the U.S. consulate concerned that students on the buses that were still waiting hadn’t been let off the bus and were hungry. The consulate contacted Canadian customs. Read More


Well, that looks promising.

Journalism tops The Daily Beast’s gallery of the 20 most useless degrees and journalists on twitter are abuzz about the harsh designation. But come on guys, one day we’re going to have to be honest with ourselves and admit that the chances of landing a journalism job right out of school are only slightly better than being drafted into the NFL. Read More

This is the real Taylor Gang

I met the Taylors while looking for standalone art for the front page. After Jannie May (center) was diagnosed with lung cancer and Grandma and Grandpa Taylor died, the family moved from the family home into different residences. As she smoked a cigarette Jannie May told me her story:

A few weeks before Jannie May found out her cancer was in remission. That Saturday they all met up to fix up the family home so they could all move back in. This photo wasn’t published, but it’s one of my favorite photos from last year.

Oh wait, were you looking for…


The first response from Florence School District 3 to my FOIA letter.

In my FOIA experience, agencies have tried all kinds of things to block or delay the release of information, but I got to see a new one when dealing with a small school district in South Carolina.

Last April, a Lake City teacher was arrested for criminal sexual conduct with a minor. It was in and out of the news for a little bit.

During a lull in the coverage I ran into a family member of the teacher who said the district knew what was going on for longer than they acknowledged, and that I should be able to find at least one email about her “getting a talking to,” information that proved the district knew of the misconduct before she was officially reprimanded.

As soon as I got back to the office, I wrote up a FOIA letter to the district (Florence School District 3) for all emails to and from the school’s principals concerning the teacher in the last two years.

I’d rather know someone at an organization who doesn’t mind giving me information than send a FOIA letter any day. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that option this time. I think in a lot of organizations, especially smaller towns like Florence, S.C., FOIA is seen one of three ways: Read More

I think most people know I’m not at the Morning News anymore. Currently, I’m living on a mattress on the floor of a room in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.

During my mid-morning break from playing Call of Duty to look for jobs, I came across this. It’s a job listing from The Post and Courier in Charleston – a job listing that makes a pretty mighty claim:

The Post and Courier, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, is seeking an experienced reporter to cover the Boeing Co. and technology…

Wait…didn’t I just read on The State’s website that they were South Carolina’s largest newspaper? Not that who is bigger really matters to me, but my brain just likes to investigate. So I did. Read More

a screenshot of The Vault homepage (click to enlarge)

By posting thousands of classified government documents online, Wikileaks aims to keep governments open. By posting records and HIV status information on porn stars, PornWikileaks says it wants to keep the adult industry open. Saudi Leaks posts documents to expose bureaucratic corruption.

Now the FBI has joined the document dump party.

Thursday the FBI released 350 pages worth of documents from its investigation of Notorious B.I.G.’s murder on its “electronic reading room,” The Vault.

The Vault is an online repository of documents related to FBI investigations of major disasters, celebrities and personnel that seems pretty similar to document leak sites appearing on the net.

The records are broken down into categories like popular culture, civil rights, unexplained phenomenon and counterterrorism and have case files on topics from Jimi Hendrix to Columbine to FBI Undercover Operations.

You can keyword search them or browse the categories, and at the very bottom of the document viewer there’s a link to download the file so you can have it forever.

The whole thing is really neat. Here’s a few things I learned in the last five minutes:

1. The UFO at Roswell was suspended by a balloon.

2. The FBI likes just collects newspaper clippings on the Aryan Nation but took super-detailed notes on Malcom X.

3. PETA sends some pretty mean hate mail:

“Every night I whisper a prayer that something despicable happens to you, something where you feel pain like you’ve never felt before or better yet a prayer that someone you love suffers such as they have never felt before such as you do to the pigs that you put through incredible pain…”

A lot of it isn’t new information. A lot of it is redacted. And I’m sure it’s not everything they have on the said topics, but it’s a nice gesture – although the ultra-skeptical journalist part of my brain is wondering if the FBI is just using pages out of a college basketball playbook: The best defense is a good offense.

My last day at the Morning News was Tuesday. Although it was a great learning experience for me, I decided it was time for me to try something different.

Being an unemployed journalist is kind of bittersweet. On one hand I’m done reporting about birthday parties and confederate museums – but that also means I’m not working at all. After all, it is where I saw my first dead body on the job – and helped kick off the Florence Penny Tax coverage (some of that here and here) – wrote a narrative based on the twitter account of a teen accused of plotting a Columbine-style attack and embedded with a National Guard unit during IED training.

While I’m figuring out what the next chapter is going to be, I’ll be using this time to finish up projects I started months ago and work on a couple I’ve recently picked up (the photo above is from that one).

Let’s start with some favorites. Read More