I have been a reporter for thirty years, the last twenty in West Virginia. I’ve worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and since 2009 for the Public News Service. As a freelancer I’ve reported for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, and National Public Radio.
West Virginia is a really good place to be a journalist, in part because the people are so friendly and open. For the first six months after I moved to Elkins, I thought everyone had to be putting me on. They couldn’t be that nice, I thought.
I realized it wasn’t an act when I called a wrong number in Webster County, trying to reach a county commissioner. Not only did the guy who answered happily chat with me for a good fifteen minutes, he then volunteered to look up the right number for me.
West Virginia is also a place where I feel I can make a difference, sometimes. The big coastal media gets more glory, but this state has earned a reputation as a place where reporters can fight for truth, justice and the West Virginia way.
There is a strong journalistic tradition here, and I’d like to think of myself as part of it. We claim direct descent from the photographer Lewis Hine, who helped end child labor. A hundred years ago, he said “when the great social peril is darkness and ignorance, what then...is required? Light! Light in floods.”
Dan Heyman has been covering West Virginia politics and policy for more than two decades. He likes dogs but has trouble keeping kudzu from swallowing everything he owns. For more of Dan's WV Strong content, click here.