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Connor Sheets

Investigative Reporter

Experience

The Birmingham News, Investigative Reporter
Birmingham, Ala. - Jan. 2015-Present.

  • Tell important stories about the people, events and issues that define Alabama.
  • Produce investigations and enterprise pieces aimed at addressing public needs and bringing attention to pressing issues.
  • Dig deep into documents, data and personalities to find stories with real impact.
  • Collaborate with AL.com Studios to produce compelling multimedia projects.
  • Drive large amounts of traffic to AL.com by generating engaging content and spreading it to the public via expert use of SEO and social strategies.
  • Broke the story of Harper Lee's death, relying on deep sourcing in her hometown to report the news well before any other media outlet.
  • Was the first person to report on how the University of Alabama uses "dark money" to influence state politics.
  • Reported on the scandals embroiling Gov. Robert Bentley's administration, transgender Alabamians, compulsory drug testing at University of Alabama fraternities and many other topics.
  • Co-produced video projects on a diverse range of topics including underground motorcycle clubs, the 2016 presidential race and gang violence in Selma.

 

International Business Times, Senior Reporter
New York, N.Y. - Oct. 2011-Jan. 2015.

  • Covered topics ranging from international affairs and New York news to culture and U.S. politics.
  • Wrote long-form features and investigative pieces for IBT Magazine as well as on-the-ground reported news stories and a wide variety of shorter online content.
  • Reported from countries including Nigeria, Poland, Japan and China.
  • Ran IBT's traffic and trends desk from Jun. 2012 to Jan. 2013, managing a team of reporters and mastering the art of generating web traffic.
  • Often drove more monthly traffic to IBTimes.com than any other reporter.
  • Personally brought more than 1.2 million unique daily visitors to the site in March 2013, breaking the monthly record for a single reporter.
  • Wrote numerous exclusive investigative pieces, including one on alleged Hatch Act violations at the Cincinnati IRS office that spurred the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to launch an official investigation.
  • Reported on Hurricane Sandy, the 2013 New York City mayoral race, Tribeca Film Festival, Occupy Wall Street and more.

 

Newsweek, Contributing Reporter
New York, N.Y. - Sept. 2013-Jan. 2015.

  • Wrote features for the magazine, profiles and short online content.
  • Covered topics including politics, the arts, economics and media.
  • Drove significant traffic to Newsweek.com.


TimesLedger Newspapers, Staff Reporter
Queens, N.Y. - Oct. 2009-Oct. 2011

  • Covered Queens and New York City news, personalities, culture, crime and government.
  • Published several exclusive investigations that led directly to action on behalf of politicians and developers.
  • Created niches covering the diverse immigrant communities of Queens and real estate and economic development in the borough, eventually becoming a leading voice on these topics.
  • Extensively covered the federal trials of terrorism suspects from Queens.
  • Won the New York Press Association's Writer of the Year award in April 2011 in recognition of my reporting work for TimesLedger Newspapers.

 

The Gazette, Staff Reporter
Frederick, Md. - Mar. 2008-Sept. 2009.

  • Covered key beats including Frederick County government, business and culture.
  • Exposed an energy company's plans to railroad community opposition to a $527 million incinerator proposal. The county later turned down the plan partly in response to the public outrage that resulted from my in-depth reporting.

 

Key Awards & Fellowships

Nonresidential Fellowship - Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
Aug. 2016 to July 2017.

  • One of eight media professionals selected from 396 applicants for this prestigious fellowship awarded by the University of Missouri's Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
  • Creating, implementing and evaluating techniques to recognize, train and engage members of Alabama communities in pitching AL.com with stories and concepts they believe should be part of the mainstream news agenda.
  • Leading a series of targeted seminars intended to generate a base of news "deputies" to serve as a conduit for the ideas, experiences and concerns that affect them and their peers, ultimately resulting in richer and more varied coverage of local communities.
  • Partnering with GroundSource to develop an SMS and Facebook Messenger bot to enable deputies to submit information to AL.com editorial staff.

First Place, Investigative Reporting, Non-daily Category - Green Eyeshade Awards
June 2016.

  • Member of a three-person AL.com reporting team that received first-place honors for a months-long investigative series on Alabama's opiate addiction problem.
  • The Green Eyeshade Awards are awarded annually by the Society of Professional Journalists to recognize the best work done by journalists in the South.

Best Lifestyle Feature, Alabama Associated Press Media Editors awards
June 2016.

Fellowship on Immigrant Children and Education - The Institute for Justice & Journalism
March 2016.

  • Selected from a national pool for this journalism fellowship at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
  • Worked with fellowship leaders to hone a reporting project that matched human stories with Alabama's unique migration trends following the state's passage in 2011 of S.B. 56, at the time the nation's harshest anti-immigration law.

Exchange Program for Media Professionals from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and the United States - International Center for Journalists
Sept. 2013.

  • Spent two weeks embedded with newspapers in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria, writing for their daily editions and for International Business Times in the U.S.
  • Covered topics including the challenges facing LGBT Nigerians, the country's budding space program and the impacts of systemic governmental failures on residents of the Lagos slums.

Writer of the Year - New York Press Association
April 2011.

  • Selected for this first-place honor in New York Press Association's statewide Better Newspaper Contest.
  • More than 170 newspapers submitted a total of 2,634 entries in 60 categories.
  • Judge's quote: "His body of work speaks for itself -- journalism at its best."

Eagle Scout Award
Dec. 2001.


Education

University of Maryland
College Park, Md.

  • B.A. from Philip Merrill College of Journalism, 2007.