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In northwest Tanzania, looking for Mayegga's brain surgery patients. Photo/Annie Duryee

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When I work on a story, I ask myself: "What will I learn from it? What will others? What is this story’s universal message?"


Stories are how we make sense of the world. They are how we transmit our beliefs and traditions.They are literally part of our wiring. Our brain’s mirror neurons help us experience another person’s successes and failures, which in turn allow us to take new and better paths. 

I’ve spent the past 30 years writing stories for newspapers. Many stories are about quests: A Black man's search for redemption through the construction of a children's park (The Guardian); a doctor's quest to teach brain surgery in Africa (One Brain at a Time); an insurance executive's search for justice (The Insider).  I also seek out subjects that have huge stakes but are difficult to understand, such as the beautiful and mysterious world of ocean plankton (Every Other Breath).

I try to use  investigative and narrative storytelling techniques to put flesh on these stories. This is increasingly rare in local newspapers. Fortunately, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Post and Courier supports in-depth narrative work. There, I've exposed a variety of complex community problems, from mercury poisoning to insurance boondoggles to questionable police shootings, often using narrative techniques to get those mirror neurons firing.

​Recent ​Honors

2022 International Covering Climate Now award for "The Greenland Connection."

2021 Columbia Journalism School John Chancellor Award for cumulative achievements in journalism.

2021 Scripps Howard Howard for environmental reporting, "Rising Waters." Shared. 

2021 Phillip Reed Memorial Award for Environmental Excellence

2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist for team project "Rising Waters."

2020 Society of Environmental Journalists first place award for best feature

2020 Society of Features Journalism 1st place feature and integrated storytelling.

2020 Sigma Delta Chi Award for exceptional journalism.

2020 James Beard Award finalist for "The AGEs Puzzle."

2019 Inaugural M.I.T. Victor McElhany Knight Science Journalism Award

2018 AAAS Kavli Silver Award for Science writing.

2018 Society of Environmental Journalists Award for best environmental beat reporting.

2018 ASNE Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence.

2018 Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism.

2018 Columbia Journalism School John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Reporting, finalist.

2018 Furman University Riley Institute Diversity  Leadership Fellow.

2017 AGU Walter Sullivan Award for Science Writing.

2017 National Press Foundation Award for Technology in Journalism.

2017 Barlett & Steele Silver Medal for best investigative business story.

2017 Green Eyeshade Award for Feature Writing.

2016 Shared two Scripps Howard Awards.

2016 APME Award for Public Service.

2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Breaking News (shared with P&C colleagues).

2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Explanatory Reporting.

2013 Sigma Delta Chi Award for National Reporting.

2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Feature Writing.

2011 Harvard Nieman Fellowship.

2009 National Press Foundation Stokes Award for Best Energy Writing.

2008 Gerald Loeb Award for Business and Financial Journalism.

2008 Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Best Local Story Award.

2008 ASNE Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting.

2007 APME Award for International Reporting

2006 Phillip Reed Memorial Ward for Outstanding Writing.


Since 1985, winner of more than 80 S.C. Press Association Awards. Twice named "South Carolina Journalist of the Year."

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