Who I Am, What This Is About

BIO written by a stranger:

I don’t know who this person is, but this is a really kind, cool thing to say about somebody. Thanks. So Conde Naste editors, read this and then help me pay my darn bills, especially this pesky IRS one.

Article – A Journalist’s Life: The Risk-Taker
By now most of you out there know about APBnews.com, the crime and punishment weblog to which one can turn to get one’s fill of the gory, violent and reprehensible moral transgressions that abound in our decrepit modern world. But how many people know anything about Kevin Heldman, the journalist responsible for covering serial murders and maintaining the serial-killer database for the site? This guy’s life story reads like a Tom Waits tune, miserable and intense, dark and cynical… no wonder he’s so good at his job. He’s no hack, either. A graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, he’s freelanced work for Vibe, Us, Rolling Stone, Spin – all the while balancing a natural gift for pissing people off with a remarkable empathy that garners back their trust.

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BIO I wrote:

Readers (who I respect and sometimes cherish):  My website and my blog are an outlet for my past and ongoing work. This is actual alternative journalism from an actual trying to be real journalist — a type of journalism that is not being done much today.  I’m covering medical issues, mental health, crime, prisons, the military, subcultures, education, death, and maybe, most importantly, voices that don’t get heard.  I write for publications and I’m using my blog as a way to talk about this coverage, about related news, other news — publishing original work, reflecting and analyzing journalism in an insightful way.

This blog will contain, traffic in,  insights, ideas, and information that doesn’t necessary get published or doesn’t have to or need to — the web is a free uncensored honest fitting real time outlet for it.

Let me get the credentials out of the way — why you should not necessarily listen to me but at least believe me, respect that what I’m saying is true and that is thoughtful and that I’ve wrestled with it and checked it out and that I’ve been vetted in journalism:

I’m a journalist with 20 years of experience —  I’ve reported  and written under contract for Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Spin, The Village Voice, Esquire, Vibe, Sports Illustrated, US Magazine, APBnews.com, Texas Monthly, Z Magazine, City Limits, NY Press, The Dallas Observer, The Fader, Korea Web Weekly, Capital New York, and several Japanese language publications.

My work has been recognized and cited by Pro Publica;  The Wall Street Journal; Current Intelligence; The Children’s Defense Fund;  Amnesty International;  Human Rights Watch; Columbia Journalism Review ; The Poynter Institute; The Village Voice; Business Week; Inside.com; The Boston Globe; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; New York Press; Vice Magazine; The Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy; The Hip-Hop Network; Mainichi Shimbun (a national Japanese newspaper); MBC (a national Korean television network); and Gazeta Shqiptare, Gazeta Mapo,  News 24  (Albanian newspapers and an Albanian television network)

 Check my website JournalismWorksProject.org that represents my life’s work.

I’ve won a Livingston Award for International Reporting (kind of the Pulitzers for younger journalists, prestigious) and was a finalist for that award  two other years. I’ve won two National Mental Health Awards for excellence in reporting, won an Online Journalism Award, was a Carter Center reporting Fellow, received a Certificate of Commendation for reporting from the American Psychiatric Association and in 2011 was awarded a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism foundation “for investigative stories that otherwise would not be told.”

My work has received praise from author and neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks (Awakenings); Dr. Kay Jamison (An Unquiet Mind);  journalist Sydney Schanberg (The Killing Fields); author Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickeled and Dimed — she taught one of my articles – undercover in a psychiatric hospital – in her grad school journalism class at Berkeley); and Dr. David Biro (The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion, and Relief ) — he taught one of my articles in his course on medicine and literature at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York.

My articles have been cited in the following books:
Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon (National Book Award winner, Pulitzer finalist)

The Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson (professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego. CIA consultant, and long time director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley)

Transforming Madness: New Lives for People Living with Mental Illness by Jay Neugeboren

North Korea, South Korea: U.S. policy at a time of crisis by John Feffer

Global Ethnography: forces, connections, and imaginations in a postmodern world by Michael Burawoy

America Town: building the outposts of empire by Mark L. Gillem

Perspectives: Introduction to Social Work (article reprinted), edited by Christine Lowery

Blood Evidence: how DNA is revolutionizing the way we solve crimes by Henry C. Lee and Frank Tirnady

Some other credentials:

I’ve completed training at the International Gang Specialist Training Conference (National Gang Crime Research Center, Chicago); completed a Criminal Investigative Analysis Training course (Ft. Lauderdale Police Department).

In 2002 I received New York State and National certification as an EMT and later graduated from an EMT-Intermediate class (intubation, reading ECG rhythms, hooking up IVs). I worked 911 rescue and emergency calls on a paramedic ambulance.

In 2004 I created and ran a GED program for high school drop-outs on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (through Grand Street Settlement).

From 2007 to 2009 I was a New York City Teaching Fellow. I worked full time in a detention center teaching journalism and literature to incarcerated teenagers.

I joined the army at 18 (because I was in trouble, had no family and needed a life) and was a low ranking, serious hard working grunt doing whatever I had to do (it was rough, but I loved those drill sergeants who patted me on the back and respected me when I did their push-ups, respected me so I ran clutching both my sides with both hands to fight cramps, fell face down in gravel, got up and kept on going, jogging in army boots).

I completed my two year enlistment with an honorable discharge and broke up, honestly, about 100 fights and was in about seven.   I won a physical fitness award in basic training  — top ten soldiers in the Battalion — and another fitness award when I was stationed in Germany and  I qualified as a sharpshooter on the M-16 and with the grenade.

I used the GI Bill to go to college — State University of New York at Purchase and worked hard as hell because they accepted me when I didn’t have the greatest credentials on paper.  I won many scholarships and worked many jobs (washing dishes in the dining hall kitchen with an all Latino immigrant work force — I translated when they spoke to management and wrote an article about work force problems that later cost me  a job).  I wrote  award winning and well received work for the college newspaper and  graduated magna cum laude ( I had a kick ass 3.7 GPA that nobody ever cared about when I applied for jobs).

Directly after graduation I was accepted by  Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (the only school I applied to — I was told they were the best school; I loved my time there — nobody in the work force cared about that either except one editor who said, angrily,  that most Columbia grads were prima donnas and that many people who were salt of the earth and not Columbia J school grads were much better reporters).  I graduated with honors in 1991 with a Masters degree in journalism and many glowing professor recommendations.

No jobs after graduation (I worked construction and raked leaves worked at Macy’s, worked as a waiter, worked on a freight elevator; played horses too much at the track handicapping/horse reserach in depth because I had no intellectual outlet) until eventually, with the help of a really decent Columbia Journalism professor who went out of his way to look after his student, I was able to pitch queries and prove that I could report.  I started to write for Vibe and Rolling Stone and then I just kept on working; kept a book of story ideas (still do today), hustled and worked like heck to report, get published — still the same today, 2011, as it was back when I first started.  Nobody’s paying 50,000 a year for creative poetic journalists who want to get in depth.  I just sacrifice everything else and try to live that life doing that work because it’s the only thing I believe in completely.

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