William Harless

William Harless is Bay Area investigative journalist whose work has been published by The Wall Street Journal, the PBS NewsHour, The New York Times, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Huffington Post.

Harless served in the Peace Corps in rural, northeast Thailand from 2008-2010, teaching HIV/AIDS prevention to farmers' wives, working with his village government on a youth development program and teaching English to primary and middle school students.

He has spent the past year filming a documentary about an inner-city high school football team in Richmond, Calif., which will be his master's thesis. In 2012, he received the Mark Felt Scholarship for Investigative Reporting from Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program, where he has researched for FRONTLINE.

Since moving to California in 2011, Harless has broken news of the American Beverage Association campaign against a proposed soft-drink tax in Richmond; and, for The New York Times, written about how major banks let houses they had foreclosed on in low-income East Bay neighborhoods become dilapidated. For The Center for Investigative Reporting, he reported how the largest composting facility in California – where cities including Los Angeles and Beverly Hills were sending their green waste – allowed two young brothers to die while cleaning trash by hand in an underground sewage drain. He was the only American reporter to interview their mother.

In Nashville, Harless's reporting led a longtime congressman to return $40,000 in campaign contributions, and it motivated the city council to pass new financial disclosure regulations for nonprofit organizations receiving city funds. He was known for breaking news there and, before writing for one of the daily newspapers, interned for Nashville Public Radio.

Harless studied English literature at Lipscomb University in Nashville, he has interviewed (briefly) Ke$ha and Taylor Swift (before she was famous) and, in Thailand, sung karaoke to Elvis, the Beatles and Billy Joel. His rendition of "Hey Jude" was a hit, but his performance of "Piano Man" was not.

Education:

Lipscomb University
April 2000 - May 2004
Major in English, Minor in History, Honors Program, GPA: 3.96

Published Stories:

Radio Troubles Preceded Firefighter Deaths, Investigators Say
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, writes for The Wall Street Journal about problems with tracking and communications technologies that may have contributed to the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters in Arizona.
Towns Try to Take Back Water Systems
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, Class of 2013, writes for The Wall Street Journal about small towns across the country that are trying to take over their privately held drinking water systems and make them public.
'Ban the Box' Laws Make Criminal Pasts Off-Limits
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, writes about how cities across the country are prohibiting employers from inquiring into many job applicants' criminal records, saying they deserve second chances.
Pot Growers Alarm California Farmers
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The Wall Street Journal about an expansion of marijuana farms in California's Central Valley. Farmers there are concerned about losing productive farmland to pot growers and about a rise in violence tied to pot thefts.
Seat-Belt Design Played Role in Asiana Crash Injuries
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, writes about how coach passengers' seat belts contributed to their injuries when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco.
First Texts, Then Silence in Tragic Blaze
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, interviewed Juliann Ashcraft, the 28-year-old widow whose husband Andrew was one of 19 hotshot firefighters killed putting out a wildfire north of Phoenix.
Survivor of Arizona Firefighter Crew Was Serving as Lookout
The Wall Street Journal
William Harless, class of 2013, interviewed some of the firefighters who worked with the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew who died putting out a wildfire north of Phoenix.
Deepa Gangwani: Fomenting Change for Indian Trash Collectors
PBS NewsHour
William Harless, class of 2013, writes about a young Stanford MBA who's trying to revolutionize trash collection in India.
Donnel Baird Uses Community Power to Generate Green Energy Projects
PBS NewsHour
William Harless, class of 2013, profiles Donnel Baird, a young social entrepreneur who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment and moved on to work for the Obama campaign and to launch a venture providing job training and energy-efficient home products in underserved neighborhoods.
Soda industry outspends beverage tax supporters 10-1 in Richmond
Center for Investigative Reporting / California Watch
William Harless, class of 2013, continues to follow industry funding of a campaign to defeat a penny-per-ounce soft-drink tax in Richmond, Calif. Story was followed by The Wall Street Journal, KQED and the Contra Costa Times.
How Important is the Gay and Lesbian Vote for the Upcoming Election?
PBS NewsHour
William Harless, class of 2013, writes for the PBS NewsHour about the significance of the LGBT vote in this year's presidential election.
Beverage lobbyist funds 'community' campaign against soda tax
Center for Investigative Reporting / California Watch
William Harless, class of 2013, writes for The Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch about how the American Beverage Association is helping campaign against a proposed tax on soft drinks and other sweetened beverages in Richmond, Calif.
Taxes on Unhealthy Foods Gain Traction in Europe
PBS NewsHour
William Harless, class of 2013, writes for the PBS NewsHour about how European countries have begun taxing unhealthy foods and beverages.
Growth of composting strains oversight of industry
Center for Investigative Reporting / California Watch
William Harless, class of 2013, writes for The Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch about the deaths of two young, undocumented workers at the largest composting facility in California and about the state's struggle to effectively manage the growing industry.
In Richmond, Foreclosed Homes Breed a New Kind of Problem
The New York Times
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The New York Times about the city of Richmond's struggles to pinpoint the parties responsible for deteriorated foreclosed and preforeclosure houses and to hold financial institutions accountable for them.
A concussion shortchanges the Oilers, but they still fight
Richmond Confidential
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in Richmond Confidential about how a struggling, inner-city high school football team rallies after one of its players suffers a concussion.
Woman Grows Lettuce with the Help of Koi Fish
The Bay Citizen
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The Bay Citizen about how a Bay Area organic farmer is turning koi fish waste into fertilizer for her vegetables.
In the Iron Triangle, a potluck and a melting pot
Richmond Confidential
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in Richmond Confidential about the residents of an inner-city neighborhood who are learning to mix their cultures and to make their block a safe place for children to play again.
In Richmond, Banks Conceal Ownership of Blighted Homes
The Bay Citizen
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The Bay Citizen about how Richmond, Calif.'s police chief and mayor are taking a tougher stance on banks they said are letting empty, foreclosed houses deteriorate.
Army Corps Is Criticized for Actions in Flood
The New York Times
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The New York Times about how Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper criticized the Army Corps of Engineers after the 2010 Nashville flood.
After Flooding, Nashville Musicians Assess Losses
The New York Times
William Harless, class of 2013, writes in The New York Times about how musicians in Nashville took stock after the 2010 flood in Music City.

Books:

Work Experience:

News Intern
88.5 WFDD Public Radio  - Winston-Salem NC  ( May 2011 - July 2011 )
Wrote, recorded interviews and edited sound for daily spot news on state and local politics, government and human interest subjects
Education Volunteer
U.S. Peace Corps  - Amphur Na Kae, Jangwat Nakhon Panom None  ( January 2008 - January 2010 )
Primary assignment: with Thais, co-taught English to primary and middle school students at two public schools in two rice farming villages in northeast Thailand; helped coordinate regional English camps for groups of 60-300 students; helped organize an HIV-AIDS educational workshop for farmers’ wives.
Beat Reporter: Neighborhoods, City Government and Politics
The City Paper  - Nashville TN  ( July 2004 - October 2007 )
Wrote several articles daily; strong emphasis on source building; consistently beat other news outlets.
News Intern
WPLN, Nashville Public Radio  - Nashville TN  ( January 2004 - May 2004 )
Reported and recorded and edited audio for short news pieces including several regarding the Tennessee General Assembly.

Skills:

  • Final Cut Pro 7 and X, Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Premiere CS6, DSLR video shooting, basic HTML, CSS and jQuery; experience organizing workshops