I’ve had a couple of journalism pieces hit in the past two weeks as I worked the promo for the book, Detroit Rock City, which has done much better than I expected. As I told someone before it came out, ‘I read it, liked it and maybe a couple dozen other people will.’ Appeal seems to be a little wider than that. I take that as a good sign, although I have no idea of what composes success in broad terms. Getting published is a success in some camps. Acceptance has always dulled my senses, and staying in the outsider camp feels right at all times. It was a huge coup to me when I started work at the Dallas Morning News. It was as if the inmate was allowed to be part of the staff at the asylum.
The journalism I mentioned is a story I did out of Florida on the state House Speaker Will Weatherford, who didn’t disclose some business relationships because he didn’t have to. Now that sounds like a non-story, but it was prompted by a story earlier in the year I read about his finances, in which he was weirdly vague about what he did for a living, outside of his role in the part-time Florida legislature.
I began to dig about the same time another reporter did, as we both had a reader in our ear questioning Weatherford’s finances. His piece came first, in July.It was good, but I read it several times and still didn’t think everything was out there.
Some close to the story think it was a tipster who steered me toward the story. But it was pure instinct after that second story that led me to search business filings in Texas – which is where Weatherford has some roots – and find he was connected to an insurance adjuster who did business with the state of Florida’s insurance company, Citizens Property Insurance.
Next was a story for the Fort Worth Weekly on the Tarrant Regional Water District, a government agency that gave me an amazingly hard time in spring 2012 when I asked to look over copies of the district’s campaign finance reports for the last few year. My suspicions were aroused and I filed an open records request for a number of items, including emails that indicated a lot of inside favor dealing among a power structure in Fort Worth. Much of those records formed the basis of this story.
For most readers, this is dull shop talk. But I dig it and there you go. More books, I’m sure, will roll along and that’s what so many people are into. I enjoy writing the articles every bit as much as the books.
Steve Miller is an investigative reporter with over two decades of experience in daily newspaper, Web and magazine reporting and writing. Miller has done time as a court and cops beat reporter at the Dallas Morning News and as a national reporter for the Washington Times, and as a correspondent for national publications including People magazine, High Times, Boston Magazine, Miami New Times, Houston Press, The Daily Beast and U.S. News and World Report. In 2012, he was an Edgar award finalist for his book, Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender. He is a recipient of the digital investigative award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Miller was also the former vocalist in the Midwest punk rock outfit the Fix in 1980-81.
View my complete profile