Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from the Cincinnati Enquirer. I had the opportunity to meet James Pilcher at a Society of Professional Journalists event while he was in Phoenix for the Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference. He is the Enquirer’s lead reporter investigating government waste and misspending, as well as data work and other issues.
James, time to share:
I am the investigative reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati.com. I work to hold our area’s institutions, officials and others in power accountable and investigate major issues or wrongdoing.
I didn’t always want to be a journalist. Actually I thought about being a lawyer or trying to work for the State Department. And my first job out of college was selling ball bearings and industrial chain.
My first job in journalism was a part-time sports stringer/freelance writer in Cincinnati as an entry-level sportswriter for The Savannah Morning News. From there I went to become a sports editor in suburban Chicago and spent some time at the Associated Press in Atlanta before joining The Enquirer in 2000.
So yes, I started as a sportswriter – which still comes in handy now when I need to write quickly or have a sports-oriented story to work on.
I’ve actually left The Enquirer twice. Each time was different – the first time was a bit of burnout and an interesting opportunity. I was lured away for the second. During my last leave from the field, I worked in marketing, communications, technical writing, and project management for several local tech firms. But in the end, I feel journalism is a calling; a vocation more than a profession.
I’ve had the opportunity to cover some major news events throughout my career. I covered the 1996 Olympics, spending just about every day on the Atlantic Ocean covering the sailing events. I had to knock on the door of the parents’ of Jon Benet Ramsey one afternoon. Also, in Cincinnati, exposing the dangers of our most traveled bridge, showing the corruption at the local airport board, and diving deep into the Cincinnati city budget and pension crisis.
Recently I’ve been covering our local police department and issues with fatal shootings, overtime and off-duty work. And I even won some national sports writing awards for my work in recounting the original investigation that got Pete Rose banned from baseball.
I love deep dives into complicated subjects that have the potential for affecting just about everyone. I also enjoy data-driven stories. And of course, getting to ask those in power tough questions and holding them accountable.
I also teach data journalism at the University of Kentucky.
I am a huge music buff and enjoy going to concerts. But I also like making beer and watching my sons play baseball – ironic as I played basketball all the way through school.
Again, journalism is a vocation for me. I have a bumper sticker on my laptop that was created by a colleague at UK that states “Support democracy: Subscribe.”
You can follow me on Twitter at @jamespilcher.