ESPN "Outside the Lines"

Are rodeo vests adequate safety devices?

We explore the statistics behind deaths tied to bull riding injuries and question whether or not rodeo vests are doing the job they claim to do. Posted on June 19, 2011.

 

Rangers fans split on decision to raise railings

Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan explains why the team is raising the railings at its ballpark in light of the death of Shannon Stone, who fell while reaching out for a ball. Fans are split on the move. Posted on Aug. 28, 2011.

 

Fans behaving badly

Some jerk spilling beer on you while you're trying to watch the game? As of fall 2009, dozens of colleges started using text messaging to report unruly fans. We travel to Auburn, Ala., to see how it works. This was the first OTL piece where I did the on-camera work as well as the behind-the-scenes reporting and writing the online story.

 

Pregnant athletes don't have to sit out

We examine what happened when a pregnant high school volleyball player got temporarily suspended from her team after disclosing her pregnancy. She and her mother filed a Title IX complaint against the district.

 

Has Penn State's on-field progress led to off-field problems

This piece on Penn State's roster of athletes getting tangled with the law won a Sports Emmy nomination in 2009. It involved a computer-assisted reporting analysis of several years of Penn State rosters against Pennsylvania's criminal courts database.

 

Bus safety an issue for universities

A computer-assisted analysis of the safety records of charter bus companies used by colleges found that almost one-third of Division I universities were putting their athletes on buses owned by companies with poor federal safety scores.

 

Trip to nowhere

At least seven college sports teams lost more than a half million dollars to a Georgia-based tour operator who left them them high and dry when he filed bankruptcy - but the schools, parents and players think the whole thing was a scam.

UPDATE: Our story led to an FBI investigation into former tour operator Dale Brannan, who was arrested on federal charges of fraud in October 2011.

 

Snack attack

How safe is the food you eat at sports stadiums? We wanted to find out, so we requested health department inspection reports for all 107 MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL venues in the U.S. and Canada. The result: At 28 percent of the stadiums and arenas, more than half of the food stands had incurred a critical food safety violation. Read the report and watch the "Outside the Lines" piece that aired July 25, 2010, here.


Inventor chases dream of heated skates

How far would you go to pursue a dream? For Tory Weber, he's on 20 years and counting. From trial runs on cookie sheets in his kitchen to an endorsement from Wayne Gretzky and a trial run with the NHL, Weber's idea for a heated hockey blade has persevered. This story I wrote for ESPN.com in May 2010 follows the compelling story of Weber's faith and stick-to-it-ivness in chasing an idea.

Search more of my stories on ESPN.com

The Des Moines Register

Biofuels series

In 2007, Iowa led the nation in the production of biofuels. This series examined issues in plant ownership, new technologies, environmental impact and the role of government subsidies and international politics.

The series won a number of awards from the North American Agricultural Journalists, as well as a "Best in Business" projects award from the Society of American Business Writers and Editors. It was a finalist for the 2008 Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. You can read the entire series and explore the database at www.desmoinesregister.com/biofuels

Here are just some of the main stories and sidebars from March through December 2007.

The Dallas Morning News

photo_of_KendallCompton-byLaraSolt

The Price of Prosperity

The Price of Prosperity series in August 2005 was a forecast of what was to come as a result of our nation's overspending, credit-card happy ways. It made me a finalist for the Livingston Award in 2006. The stories tell how an affluent suburb puts up a facade of wealth and security when in fact it's reeling in debt and other financial perils. Run date: Aug. 14-16, 2005.

See my one-year follow-up story that showed how most of Collin County was getting deeper in debt, yet some families were finding a way out.A wealth of debt, a search for widsom.



 

Organic food fraud

This analysis found that consumers were paying high prices for organic food that might be a fraud, due in large part to lax federal oversight of organic regulations. This four-month investigation involved reviewing thousands of both electronic and paper records, including 216 internal audits. In April 2007, the series earned awards from the North American Agricultural Journalists for first-place news story and agricultural journalist of the year.


And there were several follow-up stories, even overlapping into my time in Des Moines

 

Minorities falling into costly loans

Shortly before all major media were reporting on foreclosure fallout, this story essentially predicted what would happen with minorities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who had been saddled with costly loans they couldn't afford. The disparity is the same even when you look at minorities and whites of the same income. I analyzed a federal database of home loans, which included indicators of higher-interest loans, to discover this pattern that concerned federal regulators.

 

Commuter crime

When suburban commuters head to the city for their day-to-day jobs, another group of workers heads in the opposite direction. In search of better loot, burglars and thieves target high-income suburbs. This story resulted from analyzing more than 10 years of county court records and current police records, both of which required a fight for access. Run date: May 9, 2006.

 

Charity among the poor

People without deep pockets still dig deep to give, as I discovered in an analysis of IRS data on charitable giving in fall 2005. I measured Dallas compared to other metropolitan areas - and neighborhoods in Dallas compared to each other - to see where people were giving up the largest percentage of their income to help others in need.

 

Hey, roomie!

Despite their macho mentality and the I-can-do-it-myself mantra, men are a little more clingy than we thought. Past their college-age years, men are more likely to have a guy roommate than women are to share their pad with another gal.

 

A subdivision by any other name

Chances are if you live in a subdivision it's name has something to do with a creek, stream or tree. A data analysis shows that subdivision names rarely stray from the norm.