Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism

Going Beyond the Agenda: Investigating Local Government

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   (912) 713-2728
David Donald is the training director for Investigative Reporters and Editors and the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, coordinating and conducting workshops on investigative reporting and computer-assisted reporting for print and broadcast journalists. A veteran journalist, Donald oversaw the CAR and research programs at the Savannah Morning News after stints on the education beat and the projects team. He was a lead organizer of IRE's regional conference in Savannah in 2002 and has spoken on panels at IRE and NICAR's annual conferences. Donald has taught at the high school and college levels, including five years as a part-time instructor at Savannah State University. He holds a master's in journalism from Kent State University. (912) 713-2728 ddonald@ire.org

   (213) 237-7486
Marc Duvoisin has been a newspaper reporter and editor for 25 years. He worked at the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call and the Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., before joining the Philadelphia Inquirer. There, he covered suburban news, organized labor and Philadelphia City Hall, and worked on investigative projects. For four years, he was the paper’s Middle East correspondent, based in Cairo. Later, he became city editor, then assistant managing editor for enterprise. He joined the Los Angeles Times in 2001 as an assistant managing editor. His responsibilities include overseeing the paper’s daily Column One feature and editing major projects.

   (732) 643-4261
Paul D’Ambrosio is the investigations editor for the Asbury Park (NJ) Press. His work has won more than two dozen national honors, including the Selden Ring Award, the APME Public Service Award and the National Headliner Public Service Award. He has twice been named the daily Journalist of the Year by the New Jersey Press Association. D’Ambrosio’s articles have led to better health care laws, a much-improved public records law and the current government ethics reform movement in New Jersey. He is a graduate of The George Washington University, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history.

   (714) 796-6853
William Heisel is an investigative reporter specializing in health and welfare issues for The Orange County Register. He has reported on health care for The Register since 1999. His work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice in the past two years, and he has won the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for public service reporting and two Loeb awards from the UCLA Anderson School of Business for financial reporting. A graduate of the University of Montana, Heisel began his career at his home town newspaper, the Great Falls Tribune, and later worked for The Associated Press and newspapers in Montana and Washington state. His stories have led to federal investigations, changes in state law and new industry standards.

   (916) 449-6044
Holly Heyser is state editor in the Sacramento bureau of The Orange County Register and former president of Capitolbeat – the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, a national organization dedicated to statehouse reporting. Prior to joining The Register, she was state government editor for The St. Paul Pioneer Press, and a state government reporter for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. She wrote a chapter about the 2002 Minnesota governor’s race for “Midterm Madness: The Elections of 2002,” a book edited by Larry J. Sabato.

   (816) 234-4433
Mike Mansur investigates local government in Kansas City, concentrating on local officials’ use or misuse of taxpayer dollars. In his 19 years at The Kansas City Star, he has also covered education and the environment. In 1991, he was a member of the team of reporters who wrote “Failing the Grade: Betrayals and Blunders in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” He was a Michigan Journalism Fellow, is past president of the Society of Environmental Journalists and still edits the SEJournal. In 2004, he won the National Headliners’ Award for his watchdog reporting on local government. The stories detailed how municipal judges spent less than 30 hours on the job, how the city wasted billions of gallons a year in treated water and how county tax collectors had illegally waived millions of dollars of penalty and interest payments due on delinquent taxes. He has a master's degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a bachelor's from Benedictine College.

   (612) 673-4725
Ron Nixon is a computer-assisted reporting editor for The Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune, assigned to The Star Tribune's projects team where he works mainly on investigative projects. At The Star Tribune, he has co-written a series of articles on predatory payday lending in Minnesota as well as a series on how millions of dollars in federal antiterrorism grants spent in Minnesota were spent on items that had little to do with preventing a terrorist attack. Before joining The Star Tribune in 2003, he worked as training director for Investigative Reporters and Editors, where he trained hundreds of reporters around the world in computer-assisted reporting and investigative reporting techniques. Nixon was also an investigative reporter at the Roanoke Times, where his work documented the state of Virginia's attempt to withhold crucial environmental data from the public and problems with the federal black lung program, which lead to changes in the law.

Panel Presentation

Rick Rodriguez

   (213) 633-6800
Susan Seager is an associate in the Los Angeles office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Her primary areas of practice are media, entertainment, and intellectual property litigation, for which she handles cases involving pre-publication review and litigate defamation, privacy, right of publicity, copyright, trademark, reporter subpoenas, and public access. Seager has represented newspapers, television, cable, radio and studios in cases such as Ross v. Santa Barbara News-Press (2003) in which she was a member of the team defending the New York Times-owned newspaper in a 13-year defamation litigation case, and L.A. Times v. L.A. County Board of Supervisors (2003) where she won Brown Act/open meeting litigation and attorneys’ fees against the largest local body in the state. Prior to her legal career, Seager was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Los Angeles Daily Journal, L.A. Weekly and United Press International. She recently received the 2004 Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Los Angeles Chapter.

   (714) 796-7024
Natalya Shulyakovskaya is an investigative reporter specializing in data analysis at The Orange County Register. Recently, she worked on projects documenting a rise in alcohol-related boating accidents and shoddy investigations into workplace deaths, resulting in stories that sparked reforms. She began her career in 1988 in her native Russia, where she covered the first demonstrations in her hometown of St. Petersburg. She was a founding member of a small independent newspaper and was a Northern Russia correspondent for a national weekly, Megapolis Express. In 1992, Shulyakovskaya came to the United States to study. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and is an IRE/NICAR alumna. After working for The Register and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she returned to Russia in 1998, where for two years, she covered major news and investigative corruption, timber smuggling, mercury dumping, and trade in body parts. Shulyakovskaya rejoined The Register in 2000.

What fellows have to say about past seminars:
"This was a well-done conference. It is fast-paced and loaded with information."
- Steve Kaylor, Tampa (FL) Tribune
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