818. A Veteran Investigative Journalist Living Her Truth
“When people say, why do you care about this? Why is this important? I say, we all eat, right? We all have to have food to survive. And when our food has become poisoned for profit, we deserve to have the truth about that. We deserve to know as much as we can so we can protect ourselves. And that is the motivation for everything I do.”
Carey Gillam is a veteran investigative journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering corporate news, including 17 years as a senior correspondent for Reuters international news service. She is the author of “Whitewash—The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science,” an exposé of corporate corruption in agriculture. The book won the coveted Rachel Carson Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Gillam works now as Research Director for the non-profit U.S. Right to Know.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“Since high school I knew I was a writer and wanted to be a journalist. After I got my print journalism degree at the University of Kansas, I got a job at the Kansas City Business Journal, which was part of a chain of newspapers around the country, where I covered the business community. That is where I learned to do investigative work on local Kansas City banks. I wrote several powerful stories that really launched my career.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“During my last year of employment at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, I conducted an investigation of a national company based in Atlanta that had for years covered up and misrepresented the disturbing numbers of injuries and deaths that were occurring in their company. That story was awarded a Gerald Loeb Award, one of the highest honors in the industry. Because of this honor, I received several job offers from other top news organizations around the country, which forced me to take a hard look at my career journey and what my true goals were.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“My father encouraged me and my two younger brothers to think outside the box and create our own views and perspectives on complex and controversial issues. He honored open debate on any issue as long as we did our own research and had the facts and statistics to back up our point of view. My mother taught me to stand up for myself and the importance of doing something good in the world. She believed that you needed to do as much good as you can, for as many people as you can, as many ways as you can. These lessons from each parent have been key to my life and career.”
Steps to Success from Carey Gillam
- Reach inside and learn about yourself: what makes you happy; what are you curious about; what motivates you?
- Be true to your core values as you create your career and life vision, and never compromise them.
- Build a strong work ethic from a very early age. You have to take care of yourself and be responsible for meeting your own needs.
- Develop the tenacity and courage to make things happen. If you want to achieve something and it is honorable and right, then work tirelessly towards that goal to make it happen.
On Her Bookshelf
Connecting With Carey Gillam
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Careers: Investigative Reporter