Before Terri Langford left Texas, she gave her cowboy boots away.

Fortunately for us, Civil Beat’s newest reporter brought to Hawaii some stellar credentials as an investigative reporter and a passion to return to a nonprofit journalism organization.

We’re thrilled that Terri has joined our newsroom as the new criminal justice reporter, where she’ll be covering a range of subjects from police accountability to conditions in Hawaii’s prisons to major court stories.  

In her first weeks at Civil Beat, she’s immersed herself in the Keahola federal conspiracy case and the fight over Hawaiian heiress Abigail Kawananakoas’s trust. She recently provided readers an in-depth look at the Honolulu Police Department’s long overdue decision to equip officers with body cameras — and how that represents a sea change for a department that has often resisted greater transparency.

Terri Langford at work.
Terri Langford is making the adjustment from reporting in deep-red Texas to working in deep-blue Hawaii. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Born in California, Terri was a military brat who grew up all over the country and in England. She received a bachelor’s degree in government at the University of Texas.

Most of Terri’s reporting career has been spent at the top news organizations in Texas – The Associated Press, the Houston Chronicle, The Texas Tribune and most recently, The Dallas Morning News. She’s covered courts, airport security, the state’s over-stressed child protective services system, the removal of 400 children from their polygamist parents and a Texas-sized, $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

In 2011, Langford was named Texas Reporter of the Year for her investigation into how private ambulance companies in Houston were raking in millions through Medicaid fraud.

Her two years at The Texas Tribune – considered one of the most innovative and pioneering nonprofit news sites in the country – left a big impression on her. So a major attraction for Terri’s move to Civil Beat was a chance to work in nonprofit journalism again.

Online news sites like the Tribune and Civil Beat, she said, “feel more nimble, more urgent and reach readers so quickly. And they feel more willing to experiment.”

Reporting in Hawaii has already delivered some surprises for Terri, notably the number of of public records that are still stored on paper rather than digitally. “I’m still looking for the airplane hangar where they keep all the documents,” she said.

And she’s suffering a little bit of journalism shock going from a deep red state to deep blue country. “It’s funny to see political ads in Hawaii where people tout their support for Medicaid and Medicare. You wouldn’t see that in Texas,” she said.

If you’ve got story ideas or tips for Terri, or just want to welcome her to Hawaii, she can be reached at tlangford@civilbeat.org.

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