Local headlines: Dad’s heart beats years after his death, a migrant wants to go home, and animal obits

April 26, 2019

This week in local journalism, we’ve got a spotlight on the papers that are doggedly pursuing follow-ups, from jail mismanagement to the college admissions scandal.

Also, I’ve been trying put something fun at the end of roundups like this, to give you guys something particularly pleasant to look forward to. I definitely failed this week, unless you consider dead animals uplifting. Got a tip on a good way to keep at tickler file in 2019? I’d love to hear about it — ballen@poynter.org.

Reporter Lauren Caruba and photographer by Bob Owen have this in-depth feature in the San Antonio Express-News about a student dealing with the aftermath of a devastating flesh-eating virus.

Cindy Clayton of the Virginian-Pilot reveals an untold story after the investigation into a notorious World War II shipyard incident was classified.

Deke Farrow of the Modesto Bee has the story and must-be-there video of a 16-year-old girl listening to father’s heartbeat in the chest of another man — his transplant recipient.

Sarah Smith of the Houston Chronicle is watching out for people who might not be able to watch out for themselves in this critical look at a subsidized housing complex.

An investigation by Brianna Bailey at The Frontier found that “many Oklahoma prisoners serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles have struggled to get their cases reopened for a new sentencing hearing or even get access to an attorney — a potential violation of their constitutional rights.”

Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News has this eye-opening account of what it’s like to be an asylum seeker, and the headline says it all: ‘This is all one big lie.’ Why this migrant just wishes he could go home.

Mary Katherine Wildeman of the (South Carolina) Post and Courier has this examination of a loophole that allows hospitals to collect tax refund money from people who have unpaid medical debt. Prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor: “The (South Carolina) Department of Revenue does the legwork, and the cash flows straight into the coffers of some of the region’s largest healthcare companies. … Together, health organizations took at least $92.9 million in more than 172,000 seizures to pay off past-due medical bills in 2017.”

FOIA fans prepare to freak out: Anna Lee of the Greenville (South Carolina) News writes about how administrators were encouraged to destroy minutes from a special meeting that criticized a public school leader.

In ongoing coverage, we have several standouts:

Localization ideas:

Collaborations continue to make important strides:

  • The Associated Press partnered with USA Today Network-California, McClatchy and Media News for Destined to Burn, a two-part series that culminated this week. There’s a lot to learn in that link about thoughtful partnerships and community engagement.
  • Also in McClatchy partnerships … OverCorrection, a partnership between the Sacramento Bee and ProPublica, launched this week, part of a group effort among California’s McClatchy papers to examine jails and prisons in that state. Here’s one from Jason Pohl and Ryan Gabrielson on deaths and grave injuries at the Fresno County Jail.

Other headlines that caught my attention:

And we’ll end with this dead animal roundup. Call it this week’s local trend:

An alligator encounter ends badly for the reptile, a rare rattlesnake is euthanized, and — perhaps on a lighter note? — here’s an obit for a beloved zoo otter.

Keep this local roundup in mind as you encounter outstanding work by your colleagues and within your network. Email suggestions to ballen@poynter.org.