Top five stories I’ve ever worked on

UnknownEvery quarter I give my new classes one 15-minute chance to ask anything they want about me, my career, my life, or whatever they want, and I will answer honestly. The questions I get vary from the pets I have to my favorite weekend hobbies, but the question I get most often is, “What is your favorite story you’ve worked on?” or some variation. I have trouble with this for the same reason that Rob Gordon/Rob Fleming has trouble naming a favorite album in the film, High Fidelity: that’s what ever-changing, highly fraught top-five lists are for. So here it is, a post I will edit 8,000 times, the top five stories I ever worked on, in ascending order:

5. A question of identity: We went to hours of court hearings about the name change to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (the city sued the team) and started talking to the community about what mattered to them. The story that happened was a team effort and resulted in a front page at the Register.

4. I once interviewed the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and we talked for a long time. Most of it didn’t make it into the short piece that ran in San Diego CityBeat, but he made me a fan. I went to their show afterwards, in a packed room at The Casbah in San Diego with 100 other people, and I couldn’t help but think they would be playing bigger rooms after that. I was right.

3. Did you know squirrel fishing is a thing? It’s a thing. No animals were harmed in the making of this journalism.

2. Mental health care is an issue that matters to me. When I moved to a small town in Nevada and started working on the staff of the paper there I was appalled that the closest psychiatrist office was four hours away. I dig some digging and after the piece ran there were three changes that happened: 1) the state legislature started talking about rural mental health care access as a problem, 2) the local hospital hired a psychiatrist, and 3) the community started to talk about health care access as an important issue.

1. Former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth is out of his mind on a usual day, but on the day that I interviewed him he had just shot an intruder in his home and he couldn’t wait to tell me all about it, how cougars love him, and how he wanted low fat meth. I think I was disoriented by the bluster and the piece was just ok, but the interview was the best I ever had.