The New York Times add three to their investigative team
Ellen Gabler joins from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Michael LaForgia joins from the Tampa Bay Times, and Brian Rosenthal joins from of the Houston Chronicle
The New York Times today announced that they have added three new hires to its investigative team:
- Ellen Gabler (left) joins from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where she was a reporter and deputy investigations editor
- Michael LaForgia (middle) joins from the Tampa Bay Times, where he was an investigative editor and reporter
Both are joining the Investigative Department.
- Brian Rosenthal (right), previously of the Houston Chronicle, is joining Metro as an investigative reporter tasked with coverage of City Hall and Albany.
Here is the memo from masthead enterprise editor Rebecca Corbett and senior editor for investigations Paul Fishleder:
We’re delighted to announce that Ellen Gabler, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Michael LaForgia, of the Tampa Bay Times, are joining the Investigations Department.
Ellen, an investigative reporter who has covered courts, cops, various government agencies and worked for several years as a business reporter, has focused most recently on health and regulatory issues. Her remarkable reporting on flaws in the nation’s newborn screening program led to reforms in hospitals and states across the country. The stories disclosed the avoidable deaths of babies and devastating disabilities resulting from delays in mandatory screening tests or reporting results for a range of disorders, some of which required immediate treatment. She found that hospitals routinely ignored requirements to quickly send infants’ blood tests to labs; that labs in half the country were closed on weekends or holidays, postponing diagnoses and treatment; and that regulators rarely tracked performance or imposed penalties for lapses.
Other investigations have exposed harmful errors at medical laboratories and weak oversight by accrediting organizations, resulting in unnecessary surgeries, lethal mistakes in diagnoses, incorrect paternity results and drug testing inaccuracies that cost people jobs.
Most recently, Ellen’s reporting showed how newborn testing policies at state public health labs in the United States are not uniform, often don’t follow scientific standards or common sense and can mean that the same test result for a genetic disorder leads to a diagnosis for a baby in one state but brain damage in another. An advisory committee to the Secretary of Health and Human Services is working to make testing standards more consistent.
Ellen has won a Livingston award and shared with colleagues the Selden Ring Award, Scripps Howard, Gerald Loeb, IRE and National Headliner awards in 2014. She was a finalist for the Loeb and IRE awards last year.
She grew up in Eau Claire, Wis., with two older brothers. She graduated from Emory University and received a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She started at the Stillwater (Minn.) Gazette, and later worked at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and the Chicago Tribune. In Milwaukee, she has also served as deputy investigations editor. She serves on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).
Ellen’s off-duty activities, in her words:
* I’m into road biking (and am nervous about being hit by cars while biking in NYC.)
*I’ve dabbled in triathlons over the years; also swam competitively from age seven through college, so I’d take recommendations on pools.
* I’m an amateur balloon-twister (yes, that means balloon animals.) I have five nieces and nephews, and two additional godchildren, so it became apparent a few years ago I needed to learn this skill. (I make swords and hats, too.)
Michael has made a dent in Florida. His coverage has contributed to the closing of dangerous flight school, temporarily shut a mental hospital and spurred passage of a state pain clinic law. With a partner at the Tampa paper, he reported that a county government program intended to provide transitional housing for the poor instead paid millions of dollars to slumlords who placed people in perilous conditions. The reporters documented, often in late night visits, how the program placed homeless people in bug-infested trailers and put families with children in filthy rooms near sexual predators, drug addicts and the mentally ill. The stories led to the termination of the program and local nonprofit groups providing safer housing for the homeless.
Michael played a vital role in a series examining how decisions by school board members turned five once-average schools in black neighborhoods in one of Florida’s richest counties into the worst in the state. They did so by abandoning integration, draining resources and assigning the weakest teachers to the schools. Children started failing at extraordinary rates, middle-class families fled, teachers bolted and violence became endemic.
The powerfully told stories were a devastating indictment of how officials had failed thousands of children. Soon after publication, the U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation. The school board changed discipline practices that unfairly targeted black children for harsher treatments. The schools got new leadership, money, additional staff and close oversight. It’s still early, but test scores have nudged upwards.
For his accountability journalism, Michael has won two Pulitzer Prizes for local reporting in three years. He has also won a Livingston award. With two colleagues on the schools project, he also shared a George Polk Award, IRE medal, Worth Bingham Prize, and was a finalist for the Selden Ring Award and Goldsmith prize.
Michael grew up in Summerville, S.C., near Charleston, and graduated from the University of South Carolina. He started at The Florida Times-Union and worked at The Palm Beach Post before joining the Tampa Bay Times. He has worked at the investigative editor there since last August.
Asked about his non-journalistic pursuits, Michael responded: “I just looked through all these other recent hiring announcements and read about how these new people are amateur stand-up comics and classically trained musicians and practitioners of hot yoga and founders of neighborhood farmer’s markets. What in the hell have I been doing with my life?”
He did say he liked to cook, go the movies and play poker. “Back when I lived in South Florida, I made the final table at the regular Saturday morning hold ‘em tournament at the Dania Beach jai-alai center at least three times. Which is no mean feat.”
He and his wife, Cara Fitzpatrick, a fellow Tampa Bay Times reporter, have two children, Liv and Alexander.
Michael will start on April 3, and Ellen on April 10. Please join us in welcoming them.
Rebecca Corbett and Paul Fishleder
Here is the memo sent by metro editor Wendell Jamieson concerning the hiring of Brian Rosenthal:
I’m thrilled — and I mean thrilled — to announce that Brian Rosenthal of The Houston Chronicle will join Metro as an investigative reporter aimed at City Hall and Albany.
Brian is a young man of only 27 summers, but he is already one of the country’s premier investigative reporters. A seven-part series he did in 2016 about how thousands of special-needs children received no special care because Texas officials had created an arbitrary cap on slots has so far won The Selden Ring Award, a Polk Award and the Scripps Howard Award for Public Service. The cap — which was not based on any research and was not publicly discussed or announced — denied services like tutoring, counseling and therapy to tens of thousands of children with autism, ADHD, epilepsy, dyslexia, physical impairments, speech impediments, mental illnesses, brain injuries and even blindness and deafness.
Awards are nice, but that’s not why we’re in this business. Brian’s series prompted the state to end the cap; the U.S. Department of Education is investigating; and lawmakers have introduced 14 different pieces of legislation. Because of him, and well into the future, untold thousands of Texas children will get the help they need.
Brian is from Indiana and attended Northwestern. He started at The Seattle Times, where he covered education and the state house and was part of a reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of a mudslide that killed 43 people. In May 2014, he joined the Austin Bureau of The Houston Chronicle. Among other things, stories he’s done in that short time have revealed:
–How Gov. Rick Perry showered his staff with money in his final days in office, giving out more bonuses on one day in his last month than he had given in the previous four years combined
–How the staff of current Gov. Greg Abbott, while he was then state attorney general, had amassed considerable evidence against Trump University and was pushing for a $5.4 million settlement before Abbott abruptly shut it down
–How Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of Jen Bush, skirted state hiring laws to stock his agency with campaign aides and law school classmates, along the way firing dozens of longtime nonpolitical bureaucrats and enticing them not to sue by giving them secret payouts
–How Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller used taxpayer money to fly to Mississippi to compete in a rodeo and to go to Oklahoma to get “The Jesus Shot” — an injection administered by a convicted felon who claims that it cures all pain for life. Miller had lied about the Oklahoma trip, telling the public he had been invited to the state for work meetings that in reality never took place.
I think Brian will like covering Albany.
But that won’t be all. We have a mayor running for re-election who until this morning was being investigated by the feds, in addition to a governor who, while also recently being investigated by the feds, seems to be positioning himself for a presidential run. Dean Chang is in charge of that coverage, and Brian will work with him and his team. I expect he’ll be the scourge of misbehaving politicians and government officials upstate, downstate, and everywhere in between.
I asked Brian to tell me a few funny things about himself. At first, he demurred. But after some prodding, he sent this:
“I do organize a weekly basketball game and I got a ping-pong table for my Austin apartment. I’m a twin (although he’s not identical). My three brothers and I all did magic growing up and we performed together at the campgrounds where we stayed on family vacations. I also sold the most popcorn of any Boy Scout in Indiana one year.”
Metro does a lot of things well: this week’s snow — er, rain — storm was just one example. Today’s scoop on the mayor not being charged was another. Every day the section crackles in print and online. But our investigative efforts have been especially successful these last few years, from the Moreland Commission to the prisons to nail salons to Murder in the 4-0. I’m not giving anything away by saying our ranks have been depleted as many of our investigators have moved on. Brian is the first step — and a big step — towards getting back into accountability journalism in a major way.
Brian arrives May 1. Please join me in welcoming him.