Precocious Truth-Seeker and Early News Junkie
Because of my broad exposure to real life starting at birth, I was never a child whose liked fairy tales and fiction books. Starting before elementary school, I became determined to peel back facades and reveal the truth, even if it was ugly. Verbal before reaching a year old, my love for the news began very early, too.
When I was growing up as the daughter of world-renowned “listed” activist artist father, Dana C. Chandler, Jr., in Boston, MA, I was my dad’s “why?” baby. I questioned everything.
Beginning when I was very young, my father directly exposed to his activities in the Civil Rights Movement. He surrounded me with other renowned educators, activist artists, political activists, journalists, and politicians.
My father, who was a professor at Simmons College for 33 years, also was a reporter who interviewed celebrities of the day like John Wayne and Billy Dee Williams. His activism, art, and educational expertise meant he was regularly featured in print publications and often interviewed on local and regional radio and television news. Those publications ranged from the Harvard Crimson to Time magazine, as well as the Boston Globe and other major periodicals.
It became routine for me to spend time around the news business, including behind the scenes. I was in broadcast and print newsrooms, on editorial floors and printing rooms, where news is made. I also was so frequently in the newsroom or at interview locations when my father was on the news that I would do what 4-year-old Marion Kelly did during her own professor father’s interview with BBC. I walked straight onto the news set or into the broadcast studio where my dad was as if he thought I was more important than his interview. But, I could because it was true.
My love for the news began very early. Besides appearing in it with my dad, I read it and watched it on television voraciously before my age hit double digits.
Besides appearing with my dad in the news starting before elementary school and crashing his interviews even earlier, I read and watched news voraciously before my age hit double digits. Reading at a fifth-grade level by first grade, by third grade I read at a high school level. So, I spent Sundays, a teddy bear tucked under the same arm that held my thumb in my mouth, using my free hand to swap newspaper sections with my dad. We’d watch evening news and 60-
Minutes together every week.
I then would discuss the news I read or seen with adults at art show openings and other events I attended with my father. (My father did and still does get his work exhibited at major museums.) By the time I was eight, those who knew me weren’t surprised any longer. In fact, they expected me to tell them what I learned and, like my dad did, many helped me interpret news so I learned to separate fact from fictionalized.
I also vividly remember spending my spring and summer watching the Nixon impeachment hearings while other kids my age played outside. I was hooked on the news, though I hadn’t decided to be a journalist yet.
Young Activist and Budding Journalist
Later, as a young teen, I was on the front lines of Boston’s integration movement. From a being METCO student bused to suburbia to get my education to being a kid moving to a predominantly white neighborhood in the city, I helped fight for the integration of the Boston area. An activist in high school, I began to write about my experiences. There, I learned I had a writing gift I took for granted. I thought it was normal.
My high school teachers explained it was not and told me I should pursue a career in writing. The idea of being a starving writer like those I was reading about didn’t appeal to me, though. But, my dad’s friends included successful female journalists of color like Tanya Hart and Liz Walker.
Rehema Ellis attended Simmons College while my father taught there and helped me decide to transfer from there to Wellesley. The idea of being a journalist made sense to me but it would be years before I realized I could use the gift as a paid journalist.
I carried my activist spirit through college as I decided to transfer from Simmons to Wellesley, from which I was graduated with a degree in Political Science and with a minor in Economics.
My decision to transfer to Wellesley was largely a political one. Simmons, a women’s college, didn’t have a woman president like Wellesley always and was gutting its liberal arts program for a business focus. Both were anathema to me and protesting against both failed. After writing I wrote a full page editorial in the school’s newspaper about why I was leaving, I departed for Wellesley. There, I focused my studies on political economy and took classes with one of Hillary Clinton’s professors, Alan Schechter.
Naturally, I was involved in protests against controversial books being introduced to the college by one of my father’s friends and colleagues during the Afrocentrism movement of the mid-1990s. I wrote a powerful piece for one of the school’s newspapers entitled, “From Rap Music to Rape Music,” about the transition of rap from political activist message-oriented music to that which degraded women and advanced America’s rape culture.
I also completed college while raising a child with learning differences, another reason for activism.
I left college and became a journalist with a desire to give a voice to those who didn’t have one. I became an internationally published personal finance and small business journalist by 1998 and won an award for my Black Enterprise article, “Downfall of a Black Syndication Kingpin” in 2005. But, I became disappointed in the shift by the news media away from confrontational investigative journalism and the journalists wanting to do the work shortly after that.
I began long hiatus from pursuing activist, oppositional journalism and attempted to redefine myself in other professional activities, including becoming my father’s artist representative. But the fire in my belly for investigative journalism and hard news work never died.
During that time, I watched unfettered racism against President Barack Obama as well as ongoing corporate and government malfeasance. Also during that period, I had personal experiences with the financial collapse and with being fraud target. That “woke” me up to real class inequality and resurgent racism led me to reject partisanship and false religious ideology for unbound truth. (I didn’t reject Christian faith, though. I committed to being like the real Christ, an activist for social justice, among other things.)
Finally, recent historic events, including the election of a new president who ran on an old white nationalist platform support by evangelical Christians I once respected, awakened my desire to return permanently to the work. Fortunately, during the last decade, there has been major growth in independent journalism platforms and organizations committed to fact-based, adversarial reporting as well as a surge in public interest in such reporting.
Current Journalist Profile
Today, I’m an award-winning Washington, DC investigative journalist, hard news and narrative nonfiction feature writer who believes reporters must be interMEDIAries between readers and institutions of power.
We represent a bulwark between readers and those who live and work to harm them. We help readers understand how these other people with titles of authority representing government or corporate entities think, work, and act. Our job is to show you how to resist them when they’re doing their jobs in harmful ways.
My experiences during this my hiatus also caused me to develop an interest in writing news, analysis, or “think” pieces on social, political and economic justice and parity issues focusing on people who are being marginalized based on their race, ethnicity or religion. I am pursuing opportunities to write those pieces as a paid contributor and am starting here on this blog.
I act in this capacity by specializing in government and financial fraud by individuals and institutions with an objective of protecting readers from getting caught in other people’s snare. I’ll also write about national security and the deep state related to data privacy, cybersecurity, government surveillance, private military contractor fraud and racial or religious profiling and targeting.
Summary of Abilities
A recognized enterprise reporter for national publications, I use my solid investigative journalist instincts, interviewing skills and knack for getting the story editors and readers want to tell the stories that matter today. I couple those skills with my sophisticated understanding of complex business issues, concepts and strategies as well as of economics, finance, law and public policy to:
- Uncover and tell the untold story, whether about wrongdoing or altruism
- Tell a local story from a national perspective, making it relevant and useful to a wider audience
- Re-examine and/or reinterpret an issue using original analysis to tell a story from another viewpoint or to debunk mythology and promote understanding among groups or of matters that directly affect your readers’ lives
- Provide realistic interpretation of data as well as research, polls or political analysis.
Whether writing a short, breaking news piece or long-form narrative or feature story, I provide readers with the facts and information to draw their own conclusions and/or make informed choices. My goal is to make my articles, posts and think pieces compelling tools for social change or personal protection for readers and their loved ones.
Most importantly, and my editors will agree:
- I work until I’m done and will work with you to achieve the results you want.
- If I can’t do something, I say so. If I need help, I ask. No neediness, no big time journalist ego.
- My goal is to make your often challenging job easier, not make you regret hiring this freelancer.
While I have specific objectives for each piece I write, I strive to meet both the editorial objectives for the publications for which I write and the informational needs of reading audiences. I want what you want–your readers to be educated, provoked, interested. and loyal.
My Journalistic Mission
Just like in my other work where I only work with excellent organizations, my mission is to work with outstanding digital publications and platforms. My objective is to help them empower readers with knowledge with information that helps them navigate life as informed citizens.
I will write stories and provide informed points of view that show readers that “governments” or “corporations” are not all powerful. They are comprised of other people not unlike you and me.
They are not super human. They are not gods. They are not invincible.
They should not be above the law because their job title conveys apparent authority. That’s especially true since, in most cases, we pay their salaries with our tax dollars, by purchasing their goods and services or renting or buying their property with our hard-earned income.
They work for us and having a different career from the one we chose or different job title from our own doesn’t give them rights to do to us what we would not allow family, friends or neighbors in or outside their roles to do.
The public has a right to say “no” to abuse and fight back without becoming a target of these other people.
The more of us who have a voice and the ability to help readers do that and not be hurt as revenge for exercising their rights to protect themselves and loved one from harm, the better and safer the world will be from other people willing to cause harm to gratify their own desires or protect themselves from being exposed for wrongs they deliberately committed.
My Commitment to You
My commitment to readers and editors is to tell those stories factually, with integrity, and only after considerable research. Even my think pieces will be based on rigorous thinking and inquiry.
I specialize scoops and exclusives. But, I’m not about being the absolute first to report on an issue or topic. I’m committed being first to report on it from a specific angle or with the depth that only time judicious observing, researching and developing a story provides. You always can expect my best work and, barring any circumstances beyond my control, like hacks that brick my laptops or family emergencies, you’ll get it on time.
My Writing Background
Passionate about my work, I’m a dauntless but thoughtful and meticulous reporter, a straight up muckraker.
In addition to hard news and long-form investigative and narrative nonfiction features, I write personal finance and small business service pieces. These focus on educating consumers on how to get so savvy in those areas, they thrive rather than just survive. I do my work for recognized, primarily national, respected digital media outlets and top blogs.
A versatile news professional with nearly 20 years of experience, I’ve been a regular contributor to multiple print and online publications throughout my career. I’ve also contributed to features to niche publications and blogs. I have syndicated stories to publications internationally throughout my career. You can find samples of my recent work in the blog posts and my past work on this site.
Let’s Work Together
While I don’t take all work offered to me, I’m interested in learning more about your projects. Please review my blog posts, my work samples and learn what I get hired to write. Then, contact me and let’s chat.
(c) 2017. Dahna M. Chandler for New Fourth Estate Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Unsplash—Brigitte Tohm