Below, you'll find links to some of my magazine and newspaper articles and columns from my previous life as a freelance writer. They cover a wide range of topics, from complex medical and business issues to entangled family dramas. I have not linked to all the stories. In some cases, the links are no longer live, or the files are too large to attach. In any case, if there is something you want to read, let me know and I will send you a copy.

I have also covered breaking news for The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal

In addition, I have completed projects for corporate and nonprofit clients that aren't journalism but use a lot of the same skills. I wrote this report in 2017 for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other projects include e-books, research reports, case studies for capital campaigns, speech writing and grant applications. Please contact me if you want to see more examples of these assignments. 


Teflon's River of Fear. A deep dive into the controversy over an essential chemical, published in Fortune's 500 issue. 

After a law school closes. The plight of the students who attended the Charlotte School of Law, in the Washington Post Magazine.

Grief is a Jumble Word. This was my essay published on Longreads about grief and loss.

Name Game. The silliness of changing the name at Piedmont Triad International Airport, in Business North Carolina.


Healthcare Mergers:  What's at stake in the merger between UNC and Carolinas HealthCare. Business North Carolina.

Local Flavor. A look at entrepreneurialism through the eyes (nose?) of a flavoring company. Business North Carolina.

Up in smoke. Understanding the buyout of Reynolds American. Business North Carolina.

Cardinal's true feathers. The fight over the managed-care entity that runs Medicaid in North Carolina. Business North Carolina.

Store Wars. How the arrival of Lidl is upsetting grocery carts around the state. Business North Carolina. 


The Mystery that is Melania. profile in the Washington Post Magazine about Melania Trump. Yes, that Melania Trump.

Hammer blow. cover story in the Washington Post Magazine about rage, murder and rock climbing. 

Beyond Spam. A profile of Hormel Foods and its efforts to become a more holistic food company. Published in Fortune magazine's Fortune 500 issue.

Participatory Budgeting. This is a piece for Yes! Magazine about a new way of sharing power in cities. It left me encouraged about democracy.

Urban Parks. Part of National Geographic's year-long celebration of parks, this story in the April issue of the magazine explores the innovation behind a new generation of public spaces.


Shameless. cover story in the Washington Post Magazine on Joe Morrissey and his career of turning scandal into political gold.

Don't Panic. The first column I wrote for Business North Carolina magazine, part of a grand experiment. 

The Glazers' Way. Reuters. profile of one of the most powerful families in the world of sports.

Graves of the Dead. Published in Longreads and The New New South, this piece is a reported essay on the Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, W. Va.

Passive Aggressive. Business North Carolina. Making sense of Treasurer Janet Cowell and the empire she has built.


Life on the passionate fringe. The Washington Post Magazine. A profile of a long-time political activist and the price of taking a stand.

KimKim. The Washington Post. A piece for the food section about Korean hot sauce and our changing American palate. 

The ReportBusiness North Carolina. A cover story on the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's report, and how that changed our state.

​A gathering of the Moog peopleFortune. Woodstock for the tech set. A really cool event focused on the Moog synthesizer.

The Energy Boom's Mighty MiddlemanFortune. This piece, published in the Fortune 500 issue, is a deep dive into the pipeline business and the realities of our energy-intensive economy.

The Surrender. The Washington Post Magazine. The town of Appomattox, Va., as it awaits the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. A profile of a community in transition.

The Rise and Fall of RenegadeBusiness North Carolina. The amazing story of a cigarette entrepreneur and the empire he built and lost.

Preserving a vanishing way of lifeNational Geographic. Published on the magazine's website, this story explores efforts to save the Gullah Geechee culture along the Southeast coast. 

The Tillis winThe Wall Street Journal. Why Kay Hagan lost her race for reelection, published on the paper's Washington Wire.


Uncle Sam's RiverFortune. A look at the lost legacy of the Tennessee
Valley Authority. 

Now, About that BrandBusiness North Carolina. Has the state's shift to the right harmed its brand?

The RiftThe Washington Post MagazineThis piece is on the epic fight between the family members who own Luray Caverns. 

Vapor TrailsBusiness North Carolina. The rise of the e-cig and how Big Tobacco is changing the game. Click here to read.

Putting the Gas in GastronomyFortune. For you "Sheetz freaks" 
out there, this is my story on the "convenience-restaurant" chain.


The Healing MachineFortune. This story is about a sprawling patent fight over a piece of medical technology. One of my favorites. Click here to read it.

Charlotte, after the banking crisisFortune. The financial center awaits its closeup for the Democratic National Convention. Click here to read it.

Honey, I bought a fairThe Washington Post Magazine. The collapse and rescue of the State Fair of Virginia. Click here to read it.


Power StruggleFortune. This story is about the challenge of getting wind energy out of Wyoming. It has fantastic art. Click here to read it.

The Untamable River Trade. Fortune. Here's my trip down through the waterways of the Midwest, riding coal and chemical barges. 


Alcoa and the Great North Carolina Power GrabFortune. This story was my first big freelance assignment. It's about Alcoa and its dams in North Carolina.

On the lighter side, this is a piece I did after leaving the world of 
newspaper management, about my stint as a census enumerator. 

My work

Ken Otterbourg