I have spent most of my professional life focused on two goals. The first is understanding and explaining complex issues. The second is finding stories that needed to be told.

I started as a reporter, learning how to discover and tell important stories. Then I was an editor, helping and teaching other reporters. My last job at a newspaper was as managing editor of theĀ Winston-Salem Journal, running a print and digital newsroom of 90 journalists. We won lots of awards and lots of accolades, but we also forced readers to confront the problems in our community. That's what matters.

I resigned in 2010, because I disagreed with the decision to move the paper's copy desk out of state, away from our readers. I believe that sometimes the best thing that leaders can do is be true to their values and act accordingly.

After leaving the newspaper, I spent eight years as a freelance writer, working for a wide range of regional and national publications. After so many years of helping other writers find their voices, it offered me a chance to rediscover my own. I loved every minute of it. Even the endless pitching to editors... My non-journalism work during this period included writing speeches, grant proposals and philanthropic case statements. I even worked on an installation guide for a shower door, but that's another story for another day.

In the summer of 2018, I began working as a full-time researcher for theĀ National Registry of Exonerations, which is based at the University of California Irvine. It's a tremendous organization that does vitally important work. It combines research, writing and social justice -- three things I care deeply about.

I think of myself as a creative and disciplined person. I take a lot of pride
in what I do, but I also understand that we can always do better, listen harder and act more responsibly and with more compassion.

My work

Ken Otterbourg