Jim Heaney is the founder of Investigative Post and serves as editor and executive director.
Heaney, 59, 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 failings of the state Empire Zone program and the city’s squandering of federal block grant funds. 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 colleague Pat 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.
Heaney continued to put a price tag on costly economic development subsidies, such as the ill-fated Verizon data center that involved tax breaks worth $2 million per job.
“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 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.
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, 41, 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 also worked for two weeklies, including Leesburg Today, the largest weekly in the state. His reporting was honored as best investigative stories in 2003 and 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.
Charlotte Keith joined Investigative Post in September on a one-year reporting fellowship.
She graduated in May from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
Keith, 22, 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 with Investigative Post will focus on economic issues, including development and poverty.