Heather Somerville


A Journalist’s Introduction May 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — heatherlsomerville @ 5:32 am

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The snow was deep as I followed Lucia through the cemetery. She wore only tennis shoes. Lucia hadn’t visited her son’s unmarked grave since his burial in October. Lucia’s son, Gamaliel, was shot walking home from school in Chicago’s South Side. I was doing a story on youth gang violence in one of Chicago’s most dangerous immigrant communities.

Lucia cried. I took pictures. I cried later.

As journalists, we have a small but distinct window of opportunity to connect with people. If we do it right, they will open up their lives to us, unconditionally. We have to treat the experience with grace and respect, because when the story is done, we never see them again. We move on.

As a storyteller, it’s my job to make sure people’s stories are told with accuracy and authenticity. I take this job seriously.

But there’s more to the story than the face. I’ve reported across federal agencies, which has trained me to write stories that draw from high-level, and often overlooked, government documents. I’ve done extensive coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the counter-insurgency strategy and development policies.

I’ve worked with raw data, cleaning and analyzing candidate spending records to write campaign finance stories around the mid-term elections. I’ve tracked China’s investments in the rare earth industry and the first- and second-order  impacts of mining activities the Middle East, Africa and South America. A three-month investigative reporting project on climate change and national security in partnership with The Washington Post has honed my skills in assessing the intersection of private business, the government and the military.

Since starting my career in journalism in 2007, my reporting has led me across the country and the world, to glaciers in Peru and military bases in Colombia. In addition to heavy investigative work on immigration detention centers, corruption at Arlington Cemetery and the underbelly of Chicago’s restaurant industry, I’ve reported daily and breaking news stories on gang violence, human rights violations, cybersecurity and food security.

I write the tough stories, the sad stories and the stories that require backbreaking work. I do it because I love it. I go into bad neighborhoods and I ask a lot of questions. I speak Spanish, I climb mountains and I plow through databases with the same amount of dedication. I don’t believe in obstacles because I have enough tenacity to get around them.

And I work hard, really hard. I’ve earned the reputation, for better or worse, of staying in the newsroom until after even the night cleaning crew has left.

Whatever the job is, I’ll do it well. I’m eager to prove that.

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself. Below is  copy of my resume, and feel free browse through a sampling of my clips to the right. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time by phone or email.

View Resume for Heather Somerville