VJ Epstein, journalism lifer  

...executing both the calling and the profession

Resume

I'm a versatile journalism lifer who has worked as both a reporter and newsroom manager for wire services, newspapers and online news outlets.

I excel at source cultivation and view obstacles as opportunities. For example, when no one else can get into a storm-battered area that's exactly where I head.

I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of mastering different beats and excel at spotting stories which fall between those beats and intersect them.


NOTABLE NEWS ACCOMPLISHMENTS

-Broke iconic story of worst U.S. natural disaster with exclusive article about the mass drowning that claimed 35 lives at 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.

-Exposed risks associated with the entry of hedge funds and private equity firms into the insurance sector.

-Identified flaws in U.S. economic data that make labor and housing reports appear more robust.

-First to report a $1.4 billion Valero Corp. refinery expansion in 2007, via information obtained from an internal memo.

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

-Determined Jeb Bush had reached an all-time low with Florida's black voters in 2003.

-Determined Florida's largest cities were using their political muscle to siphon road dollars from faster growing areas.

-Revealed that Florida farms were losing migrant workers to less exploitative industries in 1999.

-Revealed flawed policy that had some Florida suspects waiting five years for trial in 1998.


NEWS EXPERIENCE

-The Cynical Times, editor and columnist (2014-present)

Runs day-to-day news operations of a nonprofit news website for the faltering middle class.

  

-Des Moines Register, co-founder (2011-2012)

Covered banking, insurance and investing. Top stories included the entry of private equity funds into the insurance sector; an expose revealing thousands of low-level bank employees were fired under federal regulations meant to deter high-level misconduct; and the arrest and sentencing of disgraced financier Russell Wasendorf.

-The Cynical Times, co-founder (2011-2012)

Helped startup a nonprofit news website for the faltering middle class, which grew in tandem with the Occupy Wall Street movement and quickly reached 30,000 readers a month.


-The Bond Buyer, managing editor (2010-2011)

Managed daily operations for a national daily business newspaper that is the bible of the U.S. municipal bond industry. Led a news team of more than 25 reporters, copy editors, statisticians, web editors and designers.

-The Associated Press, administrative correspondent (2008-2009)

Served as manager of news-gathering operations in northern New Jersey, head of Newark news office, and senior reporter in this hybrid role. Supervised five reporters and photographers.

-Bloomberg News, administrative correspondent (2004-2008)

Covered the U.S. economy, energy industry and hurricanes in the field. Tenure was highlighted by an exclusive story about the mass drowning at St. Rita's Nursing Home during Hurricane Katrina, which claimed 35 lives and is generally considered the iconic event of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Also, organized and moderated a 2005 economic panel at the National Press Club on the "possible national housing bubble." 


EDUCATION

-Columbia University School of Journalism

Master of Science

Top scoop reported that several Bronx residents were fatally shot after their names appeared on a storefront wall, beside the letters "R.I.P." Served as editor of the university weekly "Bronx Beat" and oversaw an edition entitled "24 hours in the life of the Bronx," which provided a fuller image of this beleaguered community.

-City College of New York

Bachelor of arts

Served as a writer in The CCNY Public Relations Office, stringer for The New York Times, editor-in-chief of the evening-student newspaper Nightwatch, managing editor of the day-student newspaper The Campus, and captain of the CCNY Lacrosse Team.

-Bronx High School of Science

High school diploma


SPECIAL SKILLS

-Writes rapidly and accurately, using shorthand for interviews when necessary.


-Capable of using statistical analysis to spot new trends and calculating basic seasonal adjustments.


-Comfortable with very tight deadlines.


-Skilled in all common office software and computers, as well as satellite phones and "mult-boxes."


-Functions well under duress and in post-disaster environments with neither power nor running water.


-Familiar with more than 22 economic indicators, road service levels, and the death sentence appeals process.


-Detailed knowledge of the energy, banking, insurance, and food industries.


-Familiar with both state and federal legislative procedure.


-Comfortable in ethnic communities of varying wealth.


-Capable of chatting up a wide range of people, from corporate executives to welfare recipients.



AFFILIATIONS


-Investigative Reporters and Editors

-Columbia Alumni Association

-National Association of Hispanic Journalists

-Society of American Business Editors and Writers

-Society of Professional Journalists

-National Press Club

-White House Correspondents Association


AWARDS


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


-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 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 field reporting efforts on the New Jersey side of the river, 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 earned first place as 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.