I have been a reporter and editor since January 1982 (and even five years before that, if you want to count college publications and internships). I branched out a few times to cover general assignments and local government, but my principal beat all these years was the law: courts, crime, lawyers, judges, business (the legal side of it, at least) and legal policy. Though that broad topic was a constant, I took a circuitous career journey through:
- hard-news daily reporting (at the Tribune-Chronicle in Warren, Ohio, and at The Houston Post);
- weekly newspaper editing (managing editor, then editor, of the statewide Texas Lawyer)
- business-side management (publisher of Texas Lawyer);
- running an Internet startup (Counsel Connect, which begat Law News Network, which begat Law.com);
- monthly magazine editing (The American Lawyer, as executive editor).
These jobs took me from Ohio to Texas to New York City. In 2004, I decided to leave my job as executive editor of The American Lawyer to return to my native upstate New York and my roots in reporting and writing. But just as I was starting to develop that work, with a feature for Inc. magazine and some undercover consumer research for Money magazine, I got a full-time teaching gig at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I taught there for eight years, mostly in the magazine journalism department teaching magazine editing and reporting/writing. I also taught media law, documents-based reporting, and a course on law, politics, and the media. I started and ran the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program, with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation’s Journalism Initiative, and helped start the university’s Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media, a collaboration among the Newhouse School, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the College of Law. I left Syracuse University in 2012 to return to full-time journalism.
Now, as a freelancer, I focus on longform, deeply reported narratives. In 2014, I won a yearlong Soros Justice Media Fellowship to produce a series of stories for Slate on crime victims. Most of my freelance writing also focuses on criminal justice. See more about my current work and links to my recent publications.
Here’s my latest CV: Mark Obbie CV June 2016.