VJ Epstein, journalism lifer  

...executing both the calling and the profession

 

Accomplishments and Awards

I don't consider being assigned to a big story "an accomplishment" What matters is how you handle such an opportunity and whether you're able to add anything of value a generic journalist would not.


That's one reason I value enterprise work and exclusives even more than working a big story.


-Broke iconic story of worst U.S. natural disaster with exclusive article  about the mass drowning that claimed 35 lives inside St. Rita's Nursing Home during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


-Prompted federal changes to bank employment guidelines that were meant to deter executive misconduct, but caused thousands of low-level firings.


-Revealed that Texas high school football players were 16 times more likely to contract antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria in 2007.


-Identified flaws in U.S. economic reporting that have obscured the true depth of the national housing crisis.


-Covered the arrest and sentencing of Russell Wasendorf, the alleged "Madoff of the Midwest," who stole more than $215 million from customers at Peregrine Financial Group.


-Exposed risks associated with the entry of hedge funds and private equity firms into the insurance sector, due to their penchant for leverage and riskier investments.


-First to report a $1.4 billion Valero Corp. refinery expansion in 2007.


-Reported rising use of online social networks by politicians in 2009.


-Broke news of Texas City power outage that idled 4 percent of U.S. refining capacity in 2007.


-Exposed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's conflicts of interest in his dealings with the Occupy Wall Street movement at a time when he was being treated as a neutral third party by the mainstream news media.

AWARDS


-2014: Won first-place for business feature writing in the Society of American Business Editors and Writers contest for a story comparing the insurance hubs in Hartford and Des Moines.

 

-2014: Won first-place for business feature writing in the Great Plains Journalism Awards regional contest for a story comparing the insurance hubs in Hartford and Des Moines.

 

-2014: Won first-place for business reporting in the Great Plains Journalism Awards regional contest for coverage of the entry of aggressive private equity firms into the staid insurance industry.

 

-2013: Shared first-place team honors for general excellence in the Society of Business Editors and Writers national contest. The judge's cited my work in their comments, saying "the paper shined with an impressive mix of features, including page-one pieces on banks' firing of low-level employees for minor offenses."

 

-2013: Won first-place for business feature writing in the Great Plains Journalism Awards regional contest for coverage of fired Wells Fargo employee Richard Eggers and thousands of other low-level bank employees who lost their jobs under regulations meant to deter executive misconduct.

 

-2013: Finalist for business reporting in the Great Plains Journalism Awards regional contest for coverage of disgraced financier Russell Wasendorf, known as the "Madoff of the Midwest." The Iowan received a 50 year federal prison sentence for stealing $215 million from his customers at his Peregrine Financial Group futures brokerage.

 

-2013: Won first place for business feature writing in the Iowa APME contest for my coverage of low-level bank firings.

 

-2013: Won first-place honors for business reporting in the Iowa APME contest for my coverage of disgraced financier Russell Wasendorf.

 

-2009: Shared team honors for top deadline reporting from the AP Managing Editors Association for coverage of the crash landing of US Airways 1549 in the Hudson River. Led reporting efforts in New Jersey, where most survivors were brought.

 

-2008: Won the annual Mayborn writing contest in literary journalism for a personal account of the body count inside St. Rita's Nursing Home outside New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

 

-2007: Won top sports writing honors from the Houston Press Club for determining Texas high school football players were 16 times more likely to contract MRSA.

 

-2006: St. Rita's Nursing Home article won first place for best spot-news story in the U.S. South-Central from the Dallas Press Club. It was nominated for White House Correspondents Association's Edgar Allen Poe Award.