A collection of my best work for OpenSecrets.org

As I head back to Alabama, I wanted to make a fuller list of my best work at OpenSecrets. I wrote many more stories than the following, but i felt it's important to highlight some of my work that wasn't part of larger investigations. This work resulted in firings, refunded contributions and many links back to OpenSecrets.org from other outlets. It appeared as cross-posted pieces with Time.com, the Huffington Post and other outlets.

Aug. 11, 2015 Mike Huckabee's super PAC pays Mike Huckabee's company nearly $30,000

Sept. 22, 2015 Accused fraudster is tied to prominent GOP dark money group

Oct. 7, 2015 Women charged in UN bribery case were donors to Rep. Calvert

Nov. 24, 2015 Old campaign money flows to former intelligence chair’s new group, and former staffers

Dec. 21, 2015 Actually, Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street money? More than double that 3 percent.

Jan. 20, 2016 Corker’s top contributors are tenants in building he owns

March 24, 2016 LLC gifts are making up a bigger share of super PACs’ fundraising hauls

April 7, 2016 UBS, accused of helping tax evaders, leads the way in foreign-connected PAC giving

May 12, 2016 Hedge fund megadonors capitalize on offshore opportunities

June 9, 2016 Clinton raises historic share — and amount — of campaign cash from women

First post: thoughts on two years of investigative reporting

I signed up for another year of Hearst's investigative fellowship last June. I'm infinitely glad I did, and not just because I got to report to my former editor David McCumber (whom I loved working for) for another year. Putting more time into this fellowship taught me about the life cycle of a hard-hitting enterprise story--and it raised questions about how I can be a great investigative reporter as a 24 year-old journalist.

I didn't realize then what I know now: these things take time. The impact does not come immediately. It goes more like this:

  1. Your "raising questions" story that reveals suspicious connections publishes, sometimes with a thud. The people who care about it share it and maybe a few file ethics complaints or call the Justice Department. But you don't go on TV, your number of Twitter followers doesn't immediately spike. People read, say "huh, look at that," and move on.
  2. You get deep into the weeds on another story, and then another, over the course of months. News about your first report trickle out: there's an OCE investigation and report. Then comes an Ethics Committee investigation. Then come subpoenas. Each time, you recycle boilerplate from your first story and explain to readers, again and again, why they should care.
  3. And then...well, I don't know. This is where I stand on my two big investigative projects, even after two years. From here, it looks like more of the same until a source tips us off or the Justice Department indicts somebody.

Point is: you can't expect a story that someone wants hidden or out of the news to resolve itself with a neat ending in a year. Not even two. A seasoned investigative reporter would read this and say, "Well, duh." Not me. I'm 24. I had no damn idea how this really worked a year ago. Now I have a better picture.

What does it mean? it means investigative reporting might not be for those journalists who want to be internet famous. You won't find instant gratification here. A one-year stint as an investigative reporter may not be any way to do it.

And for me, personally, it means I need to invest time in this kind of reporting, especially since I'm young. But that presents a problem: that's not how journalism seems to work for young people. We simply switch jobs too often. Two years, to us, is a long time in the same position, and "building a career" means stringing together several two- or three-year stints at different outlets.

So how to reconcile and pick the next career move? More on that TK, I guess.