CIR hires new senior editor, reporters and audio engineer

The Center for Investigative Reporting has hired five new staff members in editing, reporting, audio engineering and data reporting.

Fernando Diaz, senior editor

Fernando Diaz will join CIR in December as a senior editor. Diaz is currently the managing editor of Hoy Chicago, one of the largest circulation Spanish-language newspapers in the U.S., and, where he directs multiplatform content strategy and technology development.

Before joining Hoy Chicago more than four years ago, Diaz helped launch ChicagoNow, where he managed news and opinion blogs for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Before that, he was an investigative reporter covering government, politics and immigration for the Chicago Reporter. Among his investigative projects was “Fallen and Forgotten,” which uncovered how the survivors of immigrants who die in combat are mistreated and unfairly denied benefits, and “Driving While Latino,” an analysis of Illinois traffic-stop data that showed Latinos were more likely than their white counterparts to have their cars searched.

Diaz is a former president of the Chicago Headline Club and served on the board of directors of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He worked as a beat reporter at newspapers in Rochester, New York, and Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is actively involved with Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Nathan Halverson, reporter

Nathan Halverson will join CIR as a staff reporter this month. Most recently, as a contract reporter for CIR, he investigated the purchase of the largest pork producer in the U.S. by a Chinese company. That reporting resulted in a segment for the PBS NewsHour. Halverson will cover business and finance for CIR. 

Previously, Halverson spent five years at The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, where he conducted a seven-month investigation and wrote dozens of stories about the financial collapse of the county’s largest landowner, Clem Carinalli. He uncovered inflated financial statements and unearthed millions of dollars worth of properties transferred to Carinalli’s children prior to the bankruptcy filing. In 2009, Halverson investigated private loans issued by the Sonoma State University Academic Foundation through one of its board members, who had doled out nearly half the university’s $40 million fund to longtime friends and associates. And in 2011, Halverson investigated the collapse of Sonoma Valley Bank and reported on the apparent fraud that led to its demise. A federal grand jury subsequently indicted two bank officers and two developers for bank fraud.

Abbie VanSickle, reporter

Abbie VanSickle has joined CIR and the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in a shared position to cover criminal justice.

A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism – where she was a death penalty investigator on the Medill Innocence Project – VanSickle worked as a crime and courts reporter for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) for four years in the mid-2000s.

After attending the UC Berkeley School of Law, she traveled the world pursuing her new career path. She was an intern for the San Francisco public defender’s office; worked in South Africa on immigration issues, handling asylum and resettlement cases; and moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she advocated for the survivors of the Khmer Rouge before an international tribunal. She was a public defender in Seattle’s Involuntary Treatment Court, working with indigent clients with mental health issues, and worked for the International Bridges to Justice program in Beijing to develop training for attorneys on how to represent mentally ill defendants and survivors of domestic abuse.

Jim Briggs, lead sound designer and engineer

Jim Briggs will join CIR in December as lead sound design engineer for “Reveal,” CIR’s new investigative reporting radio show produced with PRX. He has worked for many of public radio’s finest programs and podcasts, including “Selected Shorts,” “Death, Sex & Money,” “The Longest Shortest Time,” NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” “Radiolab,” “Freakonomics Radio,” “Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin and “Soundcheck.” He was part of the team that won the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma in 2012 for their work on WNYC’s hourlong documentary special “Living 9/11.” Briggs has mixed, recorded and edited sound for film and television, including ITVS’ “Town Hall,” many episodes of PBS’ “American Experience,” the miniseries “We Shall Remain” and “The Supreme Court.” He has also done sound design for dance works presented at the Ailey Citigroup Theater; Jacob’s Pillow; The Firkin Crane in Cork, Ireland; and New York City public parks. As an educator, Briggs has taught sound, radio and music production courses at The New School since 2007.

Emmanuel Martinez, data reporter

Emmanuel Martinez has joined CIR as a data reporter after serving as a Google fellow at CIR this summer.

A graduate of UC Irvine in literary journalism, Martinez received his master’s degree from the University of Southern California, where he studied radio and data journalism. He has covered topics ranging from a plumber’s busiest day – Black Friday – to political contributions. His profile of a mariachi musician in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights was featured on KCRW’s “UnFictional,” a radio program that focuses on creative storytelling and documentary-style production. Prior to CIR, Martinez interned at KPCC, the Los Angeles NPR affiliate, where he helped reporters clean and analyze data sets.



The Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s first independent, multiplatform investigative reporting organization. Devoted to holding powerful interests accountable to the public trust, CIR creatively employs cutting-edge technology and innovative storytelling to reveal injustice, spark change at all levels of society and influence public dialogue on critical issues. CIR produces high-impact reporting across print, video, TV, radio and online platforms and is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, winner of a 2013 Emmy Award and a 2013 George Foster Peabody Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 (for local reporting) and 2013 (for public service).