Looking forward to the future of journalism

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

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

Interactive map shows how Bexar County voted in the 2016 presidential election

Election Day in Bexar County

Hillary Clinton lost the election — but not in Bexar County. We can see which parts of the county and San Antonio supported Clinton or GOP presidential winner Donald Trump thanks to the Bexar County Elections Department, which releases precinct-level voting results after every election. This interactive map we created from the data follows a … 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

Up in Flames: Flares wasting natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale

If you drive through the bustling oil patch of the Eagle Ford Shale near San Antonio, it won’t take long to find the surreal sight of flares burning natural gas like perpetual bonfires. Natural gas is cheap. Pipelines are expensive. So instead of collecting the fossil fuel, many oil and gas operators build tall, metallic … Read more

Telling stories about the unthinkable: How three journalists shined a spotlight on child abuse

Sarah Brasse
Sarah Brasse

In February 2009, an 8-year-old girl from Schertz died, alone, of acute appendicitis — a disease that could have easily been treated if caught in time.

In the hours leading up to her death, people concerned about the girl — including officers from the Schertz Police Department — had warned the Texas Department of Child Protective Services that she was a victim of neglect.

CPS didn’t act. And on Feb. 5, 2009, authorities found the girl’s body in a soiled bed.

Her name was Sarah Brasse.

It wasn’t so long ago in Texas that you would have had a tough time learning any of those tragic details.

In fact, according to the state officials in charge of protecting children from abusive adults, you would have had no legal right to even know Brasse’s name.

And you certainly wouldn’t be able to know the agency missed opportunities to help Brasse.

But a decade of diligent reporting by three Express-News journalists shined a spotlight of transparency on tragedies involving Brasse and scores of other children in San Antonio, helping the public understand the unfathomable.

Read more

San Antonio lawyer Alberto Acevedo says he bribed judge, got favorable treatment

Express-News Reporter Guillermo Contreras, who covers the federal-courts beat, has been writing scoop after scoop about an FBI investigation at the Bexar County courthouse in San Antonio. The latest bombshell is a story about this plea deal for local defense lawyer Alberto “Al” Acevedo Jr., who lays out in excruciating detail how he bribed Bexar … Read more