I started Water Front in the late summer of 2017 to carry on my reporting on environmental issues in the Finger Lakes. That work had begun a few years earlier with articles in various newspapers and websites amid the first skirmishes over fracking. I brought to it more than 30 years of experience and perspective from a journalism career focused on financial, legal and political issues in Atlanta, New York City and Hartford, CT.
I have a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1974) and a MA in journalism from Ohio State University (1991). I split up my undergraduate years by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps toward the end of the Viet Nam war (I fed punch cards into an IBM mainframe rather than rounds into the magazine of an M-16). After UNC, I was lucky to land a job at The Winston-Salem Journal, which had recently won the Pulitzer Public Service award.
In 1983, I left North Carolina for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where I covered finance, courts and politics for 17 years. That newspaper nominated me for the Pulitzer Prize in 1985, 1989 and 1992, but I went 0-3. I have won a first place regional reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists as well as several first place awards from the Associated Press, UPI and others.
My Pulitzer-nominated 1992 investigation into an international bank fraud led me to publish the non-fiction book Shell Game (St. Martin’s Press, 1995). It told how Saddam Hussein used an Italian bank’s obscure Atlanta branch to finance Iraq’s weapons buildup before the first Gulf War in 1991, scoring billions of dollars in secret and illegal loans. In a brief review, The New York Times called Shell Game “smart, tenacious and uncompromised.” The National Law Journal published an excerpt, and for a while the Atlanta Public library reportedly had trouble hanging onto copies.
At the height of the tech boom in early 2000, I left Atlanta for New York City and a job at The Daily Deal (now known as The Deal), a newspaper/website covering Wall Street and financial transactions worldwide. I was a senior editor in charge of reporters in Washington (antitrust regulation) and San Francisco (Silicon Valley). That great job came with an horrendous daily round-trip commute of more than four hours, so I bailed in early 2001 to become the editor of Long Island Business News, a weekly newspaper/daily website that I ran for nearly three years.
I’ve been married to wise Laura for 50 years. She’s the one who urged a 21-year-old Marine/college dropout to try journalism. We have three grown kids and eight grandchildren, ranging in age from six to 25. After tagging along after me on career-driven moves for decades, Laura decided in 2004 that it was time for us to settle in the Finger Lakes, where her family has deep roots. Fair enough.
Except for my eventful 11-month stint as the editor of The Hartford Business Journal during the buildup to the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve lived within walking distance of Seneca Lake ever since.
My posts on Water Front are based on in-depth reporting. While they may include my opinions, I strive to be as fair as possible to all parties involved. Have I written something you know to be incorrect or believe to be unfair? Please email me at email@example.com, and let’s hash it out.