Jim Heaney is the founder of Investigative Post and serves as editor and executive director.
Heaney, 61, was an investigative reporter with The Buffalo News for 25 years before leaving the paper in August 2011 to start Investigative Post. His investigative work and beat coverage at The News focused on government and urban and economic issues.
His first major investigation for The News in 1987 documented racial discrimination and political cronyism at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. He pioneered the paper’s use of surveys to grade the performance of elected officials. In 1992 he exposed the city’s biggest slumlords and their lenient treatment by the city’s Housing Court. Next he produced an exhaustive analysis of Buffalo public schools, tracking disparities in student achievement and detailing the deplorable condition of many school buildings.
After a stint as The News’ computer assisted reporting editor, Heaney joined the paper’s newly formed investigative reporting team and produced a series of investigations related to economic development, including the city’s squandering of federal block grant funds, and, with colleague Patrick Lakamp, the failings of the state Empire Zone program. He then turned his attention to state authorities, exposing waste and abuse at the Thruway Authority and New York Power Authority.
In recent years, his investigation of Buffalo Common Council Member Brian Davis triggered a criminal investigation that resulted in his conviction on both state and federal charges. He and Lakamp exposed the city’s role in underwriting a failed restaurant in what became known as the “One Sunset” scandal and later turned up a myriad of problems at City Hall’s economic development agency, which lead to its dissolution.
Heaney documented state Sen. Antoine Thompson’s use of state dollars to promote himself, and the seemingly safe incumbent was turned out of office the next time he stood for re-election. Heaney documented gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s lucrative dealings with government, history of generous campaign contributions and legal problems stemming from his company’s failure to maintain several high-profile downtown properties.
Other stories he covered during his time at The News included an investigation into the beating death of a toddler at the hands of her father and the defection of Russian hockey star Alexander Mogilny.
“We have a lot of fine journalists at The News, but to my mind Jim was the point of the spear,” columnist Donn Esmonde said at a fete to honor Heaney upon his departure from the paper.
“His determination, to paraphrase Mencken, to afflict the powerful who needed afflicting, raised the performance bar in our newsroom. I know that Jim was an example and a mentor to younger reporters. For the rest of us, myself included, he was a journalistic conscience, a constant reminder to tell the story the way it needed to be told, to not let anyone off the hook,” Esmonde said.
Heaney wears a number of hats as editor and executive director of Investigative Post, including that of reporter. His most notable stories have documented shenanigans involving the Buffalo Billion program, dysfunction in the city’s Housing Court, and the failure of Buffalo police to apprehend murderers. His coverage of the selection of the Buffalo Billion program triggered a federal investigation that lead to the indictment of nine state officials and development company executives.
Heaney has won more than 20 journalism awards and was a finalist for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for his series on slum housing. His investigation of Buffalo’s misuse of block grant funds won Governing Magazine’s national reporting award in 2005. More recently, the New York State Associated Press selected Heaney’s “Outrages & Insights” the best newspaper blog in the state in 2010.
Since founding Investigative Post, Heaney’s reporting has been cited for excellence by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the Radio-Television Digital News Association, which awarded him and colleague Steve Brown of WGRZ an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting. That makes Heaney one of the few reporters in the Buffalo market – indeed, statewide – to win awards for print, television and online journalism.
Heaney was a leader in the Buffalo Newspaper Guild for more than 20 years. He served on eight negotiating teams and was a recipient of the union’s Outstanding Service Award in 2009.
Prior to joining The News in 1986, Heaney worked as a reporter and editor with The Orlando Sentinel, covering transportation, politics and local and state government. Before that he was publisher and editor of The First Amendment, a weekly paper he founded to serve Buffalo’s Kensington-Bailey neighborhood.
Heaney attended St. Bonaventure University and graduated from Medaille College in 1977 with a degree in media communications. He grew up in the Town of Tonawanda and is a 1973 graduate of Kenmore East High School.
Dan Telvock covers the environment for Investigative Post.
Telvock was an award winning reporter in Virginia for 13 years before joining Investigative Post in September.
He covered government, politics and public safety during his six-year tenure at two daily newspapers, The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg and The Winchester Star. His coverage of a failed response to a fatal house fire was selected the best investigative story in its class in 2011 by the Virginia Press Association.
Telvock, 42, also worked for two weeklies, including Leesburg Today, the largest weekly in the state. His reporting on the misuse of a government-issued credit card ultimately sent one administrator to jail, and was honored as the best investigative story in 2003. His reporting on Virginia’s broken indigent defense system won the top award again in 2004 by the Virginia Press Association.
While working as a newspaper reporter, he also founded and operated The Landry Hat, a blog that covered the Dallas Cowboys, from 2005 to 2008.
Most recently, Telvock worked as a reporter and editor in Northern Virginia for Patch, a hyperlocal online news service operated by AOL.
Telvock was born and raised in the Finger Lakes region. He graduated from Fredonia University in 1998 with a bachelors degree in communications. He previously earned an associates degree in television and radio broadcasting from Cayuga Community College.
Upon graduation he worked as a radio news anchor in Colorado and Virginia.
Telvock’s work for Investigative Post includes a three-part series on Buffalo’s struggling recycling program, an award-winning series on the badly polluted Scajaquada Creek and a series on lead poisoning in Buffalo’s inner city. Readers have voted Telvock’s work top story of the year for the past three years. Those winning stories are his coverage of Gallagher Beach in 2013, his Scajaquada Creek series in 2014 and his investigation into the checkered history of one of the city’s biggest landlords. In addition to reporting, he writes an environmental blog called Green Post.
Telvock’s reporting has been cited for excellence by Investigative Reporters and Editors (2014), the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association (2014, 2015) and the Society of Environmental Journalists (2016) for investigative and beat reporting.
The Society of Environmental Journalists contest judges said Telvock’s “dogged reporting on water contamination and lead poisoning holds local officials accountable on behalf of Buffalo residents. The community is fortunate to have such an investigative soul in its midst.”
Charlotte Keith joined Investigative Post in September 2014, after graduating with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
Keith, 23, is a native of London. She earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, where she edited Varsity, the school’s independent student newspaper.
Her work for Investigative Post has included stories on how Yahoo’s Lockport data center received almost half a billion dollars in subsidies, the problems at Erie County’s Child Protective Services, and the lowering of the workforce diversity goals at the state’s Riverbend construction project.
Daniela Porat joined Investigative Post in August 2016. She previously worked with The New York Times investigative and computer-assisted reporting units for seven months on a project about gun violence in America. She also reported on the lack of oversight over nursing in New York for ProPublica and worked as a researcher for Vice HBO.
Porat, 27, was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and grew up in Toronto. She graduated from McGill University in 2011 with a degree in art history and political science. In May 2015, she graduated with honors from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. Her classmates voted her Student of the Year.
Her assignments for Investigative Post include criminal justice and general investigative reporting.