When I started my journalism career a decade ago at The Dallas Morning News, I sat — awestruck and more than a little bit terrified — in the cubicle across from one of Texas’ great investigative reporters, Terri Langford. Today, I’m overjoyed to announce that The Texas Tribune has hired her.
A native of Oceanside, Calif., Terri’s a naturalized Texan who comes by her tough love of government honestly. She majored in it at the University of Texas at Austin, and her first courtroom stories were told from the Atticus Finch-like Lowndes County courthouse in Valdosta, Ga., where, two months into her first job for the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, she found herself covering a quadruple murder. Terri eventually covered social services for that paper, where she unpacked the conflicted rules of government social work and public housing redevelopment for her readers.
Terri joined the Associated Press in Dallas, working there and in Houston to cover some of the state’s biggest trials and complicated legal issues, including the Branch Davidian standoff with ATF agents and the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., in Jasper, as well as witnessing a handful of Texas executions. From there, she worked for both The Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle, where she covered everything from airport security, civil courts and the 9/11 attacks to the strains on Texas’ Child Protective Services system, the state’s removal of more than 400 children from their polygamist parents in West Texas, the Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme trial and the world of Medicare fraud in Houston’s private ambulance networks. She was named Texas Reporter of the Year in 2011 for her work on the connection between private ambulances in Houston and the non-regulated mental health clinics there.
For the past year, Terri has been trying her hand at public radio, covering the delightful machinations of New Jersey government for WNYC in Trenton. At the Trib, she’ll be back in Texas covering the criminal justice and legal systems — including the courts, the state’s regulatory agencies and the people they affect — through an investigative lens. She’ll also be providing the same stellar training and inspiration for our reporters that she did for me back in Dallas.
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Please join us in welcoming Terri; we could not be more excited by this hire!