Mike Sallah joins Washington Post as first hire with Ford Foundation money

Michael Sallah will join The Washington Post as an investigative reporter and editor. Post honchos say in a memo to staff that his hiring is the paper’s first using money from a grant the Ford Foundation made to the paper. Here’s the memo from Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and managing editors Liz Spayd and John Temple:

Mike Sallah, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and editor with the Miami Herald, is joining The Post in the same dual roles. Mike will be part of the Investigative Unit, reporting to Investigations Editor Jeff Leen. He is the first of several hires we expect to make under a grant from the Ford Foundation to support government accountability reporting.

Over the past decade, Mike has distinguished himself with a rare double achievement: winning Pulitzers for investigative reporting as both a reporter and an editor.

In 2003, while at the Toledo Blade, Mike joined with two other reporters to produce “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truth,” a series on the Tiger Force, an elite U.S. Army platoon investigated for atrocities at the end of the Vietnam War. The series won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2004. Mike later coauthored the book, “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War.”

Mike joined The Miami Herald as investigations editor in 2005. There, he supervised “Blind Eye,” an investigation into breakdowns in the nation’s hurricane tracking system that sparked a $25 million congressional allocation to repair the storm-warning program. It was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2006. That year he edited “House of Lies,” an investigation by Debbie Cenziper that exposed massive corruption in the Miami-Dade housing program, which paid millions to developers who failed to produce a single house. The reporting resulted in the arrests of two developers and a federal takeover of the local housing authority. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 2007.

As an editor or reporter at the Herald, Mike also worked on investigations of sexual predators, deadly safety breaches in the air cargo industry, and the state’s failure to screen thousands of people with felony histories from becoming mortgage brokers and scamming countless consumers.

Last year, he was one of three reporters on “Neglected to Death,” an investigation of Florida’s assisted living program that led to the shutdown of 13 facilities, a grand jury investigation and a governor’s task force to toughen penalties and overhaul state law. The series was a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service.

At The Post, Mike will continue to work as a player-coach, leading investigations as a reporter as well as helping to edit and mentor younger reporters.

He graduated from St. John’s Jesuit High School in Ohio and the University of Toledo, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in journalism. He will start here in October. Please join us in welcoming him to The Post

Marcus, Liz, John

Related: Ford Foundation gives Los Angeles Times $1 million grant to cover immigration

Disclosure: The Poynter Institute is currently a Ford Foundation grantee.

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    One thing missing from the Post’s memo about Mike: “Neglected to Death” was just named the 2012 Heywood Broun Award winner, presented by The Newspaper Guild-CWA (NewsGuild). The Broun Award has a long and distinguished history and comes with a $5,000 prize. Our four-member panel of journalists judging the awards said the series was a stand-out in a field of 78 excellent entries. ” “It’s hard to imagine a better piece of journalism,” the panel said in its report. “This epitomizes the role of the newspaper as watchdog to the community it serves.”