I tell stories for a living. So here's mine.
I figured out that I wanted to be a journalist as a freshman at Penn State, when my roommate dragged me along to try out for the student paper — and I didn't make it. Nothing could make me more determined to succeed. I went back the next semester, got on staff, and fell in love with digging for important stories that, as the aphorism goes, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” My friends at the Daily Collegian even nicknamed me "Digger."
I was lucky enough to hold down some newsy beats — night cops, courts, city hall, the statehouse — at publications like The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, the York Daily Record in Pennsylvania, and The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. I spent eight years in the Observer newsroom, reporting on government, politics and the city's rapid growth, then working on the paper's "story of the moment team," which was exactly what it sounds like. I covered hurricanes, plane crashes, terror attacks and a Super Bowl, always keeping a "go bag" ready.
I did some good along the way, puncturing the case against an innocent man on death row, who was later freed, and exposing political corruption by a powerful state official, who later went to jail. I won some awards, got some accolades, contributed to The Sun Herald's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Charlotte's alt-weekly once wrote: "When The Charlotte Observer wants to make a good story a great one, it sends out Scott Dodd."
As the newspaper industry hit a period of steep decline, with crippling cuts and layoffs, I decided to give something else a try, with a fellowship at Columbia University that focused on science and environmental journalism. I freelanced for publications like Scientific American, taught as an adjunct professor, and created web content for a museum before landing a staff editing job at OnEarth magazine, where I worked with some of the best names in science writing. I led the magazine and its publisher, the nonprofit NRDC, into digital, video and social media content, then left to edit Grist, the nation's leading environmental news outlet.
Now I'm back in the newspaper business, at one of the few legacy publications that has made a successful pivot to digital: The New York Times. As a senior staff editor, I handle articles about a wide variety of topics, from immigration to gun violence to the shortage of rural hospitals. And, of course, hurricanes. I get to apply the experience I honed at publications large and small — and my knowledge of growing up in small-town West Virginia, Louisiana and Oklahoma — to one of the nation's most important institutions, continuing to dig for stories that matter.
In addition to my day (sometimes night) job, I sit on the boards of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Columbia Journalism School Alumni Association. I have also served as a judge for the National Magazine Awards. You can follow or reach me here: @scottdodd