This story first appeared in inewsource’s weekend newsletter. Sign up for it here.
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– Shyla Nott, inewsource
Congressional hearing sought into San Diego VA
Reporter Brad Racino published an investigation last week about two whistleblowers who allege a San Diego VA doctor performed unapproved research on veterans suffering from alcoholism and liver disease, putting their lives at risk. The doctor’s research involved conducting liver biopsies on the veterans through a catheter in their necks.
Following Brad’s first story, Rep. Scott Peters on Monday asked for a congressional hearing into the whistleblowers’ allegations. The San Diego Democrat’s request also comes after federal investigators concluded the San Diego VA failed to address the “basic foundations of the whistleblowers’ allegations.”
The San Ysidro school board has agreed to pay $107,000 to a former special education director who was abruptly let go 11 days after the board honored her “hard work and dedication.”
Former district official Danielle Clark said she had no idea the school board had even approved the payment at its monthly meeting until inewsource reporter Megan Wood called her about it.
Clark’s termination occurred under former Superintendent Julio Fonseca, who state auditors found engaged in possible financial fraud and misuse of district funds.
In the community…
On Thursday, Jill Castellano participated in a panel discussion on investigative journalism with three other local reporters. The group touched on the importance of public records, how to improve reporting skills and the best way to battle fake news claims. Jill said when she’s approaching a story, she will often ask herself: “What are the different ways that I can figure out if this concept is true?” One way she says she gets at the truth is through public records requests (something we do all the time).
The local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted the event on the SDSU campus.
What we’re reading this weekend…
There’s some legal drama happening in North County. Just weeks away from retirement, a “virtuoso” attorney is mired in allegations of financial abuse by his former partners. Check out this story from one of our partners, The Coast News Group.
We’ll let you know when big things happen.
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inewsource is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to improving lives in the San Diego region and beyond through impactful, data-based investigative and accountability journalism.
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Below is a breakdown of staffing data at inewsource. We determine the composition of our staff by asking them to self-identify. It is based on a newsroom of 11 and a total staff of 15 as of August 2020. Percentages are based on 15 total survey responses. The numbers include full-time and part-time staff, full-time fellows and full-time and part-time interns.
Percentages are based on 15 total survey responses. The numbers include full-time and part-time staff, full-time fellows and full-time and part-time interns.
Percentages are based on 15 completed survey responses to this question.
Percentages are based on 15 completed survey responses to this question.
|Gender Identity||Gender Identity||Gender Identity|
|Sexual Orientation||Sexual Orientation||Sexual Orientation|
|Not specified||7%||Not specified||7%|
|Speak a language beyond English at home||33%||Speak a language beyond English at home||18%||Speak a language beyond English at home||75%|
|Hispanic or Latinx||20%||Two or more races||18%||Hispanic or Latinx||50%|
|Two or more races||13%||Hispanic or Latinx||9%|
|60 or older||13%||60 or older||9%||60 or older||25%|
* The percentages in the charts have been rounded and may not add up to 100.
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Lorie Hearn is the chief executive officer, editor and founder of inewsource. She founded inewsource in the summer of 2009, following a successful reporting and editing career in newspapers. She retired from The San Diego Union-Tribune, where she had been a reporter, Metro Editor and finally the senior editor for Metro and Watchdog Journalism. In addition to department oversight, Hearn personally managed a four-person watchdog team, composed of two data specialists and two investigative reporters. Hearn was a Nieman Foundation fellow at Harvard University in 1994-95. She focused on juvenile justice and drug control policy, a natural course to follow her years as a courts and legal affairs reporter at the San Diego Union and then the Union-Tribune.
Hearn became Metro Editor in 1999 and oversaw regional and city news coverage, which included the city of San Diego’s financial debacle and near bankruptcy. Reporters and editors on Metro during her tenure were part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stories that exposed Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham and led to his imprisonment.
Hearn began her journalism career as a reporter for the Bucks County Courier Times, a small daily outside of Philadelphia, shortly after graduating from the University of Delaware. During the decades following, she moved through countless beats at five newspapers on both coasts.
High-profile coverage included the historic state Supreme Court election in 1986, when three sitting justices were ousted from the bench, and the 1992 execution of Robert Alton Harris. That gas chamber execution was the first time the death penalty was carried out in California in 25 years.
In her nine years as Metro Editor at the Union-Tribune, Hearn made watchdog reporting a priority. Her reporters produced award-winning investigations covering large and small local governments. The depth and breadth of their public service work was most evident in coverage of the wildfires of 2003 and then 2007, when more than half a million people were evacuated from their homes.
Managing Editor: Mark J. Rochester, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark J. Rochester began as inewsource managing editor in April 2021, having served as editor in chief at Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative newsroom in Manhattan. He was previously senior news director for investigations at the Detroit Free Press. Both newsrooms, he notes, shared a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and their investigative journalism often received national recognition for exposing problems impacting communities of color.
His family looks forward to returning to California, having spent more than seven years in San Francisco where Rochester was a senior manager for the Associated Press. While with the news cooperative, he led computer-assisted reporting training efforts around the West, both inside and outside of AP, and conducted a widely used analysis of the $74 million in campaign contributions that went toward the California gay marriage ballot initiative in 2008. The AP analyzed who gave and why and then made the data available to member newspapers. The resulting series of stories based on the data was AP’s 2009 Pulitzer nomination for Local Reporting.
Rochester, who served as a Pulitzer Prize jurist in 2017, also has held senior leadership positions at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Denver Post, Newsday and The Indianapolis Star. Rochester is vice president of Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc., the 6,000+ member international organization dedicated to improving investigative journalism. He also serves on the national advisory board of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington, D.C.
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