Looking forward to the future of journalism

Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for April 22, 2017

Deadly church bus crash kills 13 near Garner State Park

Investigative stories across Texas that uncovered hidden facts and held officials accountable.

Pot found in truck that hit church bus near Leakey, DPS says | San Antonio Express-News

“Jack D. Young had taken prescription pills and was in possession of marijuana when he crashed his pickup into a church bus March 29 on U.S. 83, killing 13 people, according to court records released Tuesday that also bolstered reports that he was texting while driving.” Story by Zeke MacCormack. Read more …

Meet the real reporter in the new Netflix movie ‘The Most Hated Woman in America’

Adam Scott plays a reporter based on John MacCormack in Netflix movie

“The Most Hated Woman in America” is a new Netflix movie about Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an outspoken atheist who mysteriously went missing in Austin in 1995 — along with $600,000. No one knew what happened to her. And it’s likely no one ever would if it hadn’t been for a series of investigative articles written … Read more

Adrift: Hot-air balloon pilots face little scrutiny from FAA despite higher crash rates

Kubicek balloon flown by Skip Nichols

After a deadly balloon crash killed 16 people near Lockhart last summer, my boss, projects editor David Sheppard, asked me to look into the safety record of the hot-air balloon industry and find out how someone like Alfred “Skip” Nichols could be allowed to pilot balloons with a string of DWI convictions on his record. … Read more

How to transcribe with Trint: An interview with CEO Jeff Kofman

Trint

Buried in my desk drawer is a scratched-up relic — a mini-cassette recorder that I used all the time as a young reporter to transcribe interviews. Now it looks like a discovery at an archaeological dig compared to my high-tech smart phone, which lets me record interviews for hours and share files instantly. But even … Read more

If you think newspapers are lame, here are big stories in San Antonio you missed in 2016

Express-News headquarters in San Antonio

The next time someone tells you newspapers are irrelevant, tell them to read this blog post. I get it. Newsrooms are shrinking, subscription are going up, and it feels like there’s not enough time in the day to read some dusty old newspaper — even if it comes in a slick digital version. But that … Read more

How shoe-leather reporting uncovered a bizarre bankruptcy tied to Senator Carlos Uresti

Patrick Danner story about Carlos Uresti

Earlier this year, Express-News business writer Patrick Danner set out to write a story about the rising number of oil and gas companies going bust in South Texas. What he found instead was a bizarre saga about a bankrupt company accused of fraud and its hidden ties to Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. … Read more

What’s Evernote for? How about making a vast, searchable archive of all your files

Evernote

Evernote turns eight years old this week. But even after all these years, some people have trouble grasping what, exactly, this mystical app is supposed to do. Is it for taking notes? Saving bookmarks? Taking photos? All of the above? Everyone’s needs are different. But for me, Evernote really shines as a vast, searchable archive … Read more

Insightful FOIA tips from ‘FOIA terrorist’ Jason Leopold at NICAR 2016

Jason Leopold of Vice News

It’s impossible to say enough good things about NICAR 2016, a journalism conference in Denver where more than a thousand attendees honed their data-wrangling skills. NICAR is all about finding good stories in data. But what stood out for me was a talk by investigative reporter Jason Leopold of Vice News about using the Freedom … Read more

Police reports about people who die in custody are late, missing in Texas

Texas Custodial Death Report

With so many controversial deadly force incidents in the news that raise questions about police tactics, wouldn’t it be great to have a reliable system in place to keep track of lethal police encounters to get a handle on how often they happen? The good news is, there’s a statewide system in Texas to track … Read more

How to check safety inspections for any elevator or escalator in Texas

View from the Tower of the Americas

The elevators at the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio look like something out of the Jetsons. Yet every once in a while, the futuristic contraptions get stuck, stranding people hundreds of feet in the air. Last week it happened again. Firefighters rescued 14 people, including two children, who were trapped inside a stalled … Read more