“The late 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt used to tell his famous correspondents: Tell them a story. Do the research, get the facts, but tell the audience a story in its presentation. Katie Thisdell knows how to follow Hewitt’s credo. In each entry, she tells a human story while explaining a scientific or medical technique. Through her stories, one understands why these techniques are important.” – Judges in the 2013 Virginia Press Association competition

I’m currently a reporter at The Daily Transcript, a business daily in San Diego, and I was previously a reporter at The Free Lance-Star, in Fredericksburg, Va.

I studied journalism/media, religion and writing/rhetoric at James Madison University, and was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper, The Breeze.

A Virginia native, I moved across the country in February 2014 and am now based in San Diego with my black Lab, who loves to eat books and steal food from the counters when I’m not looking.

Here you’ll find a selection of my work, separated by media outlet—including videos produced at James Madison University.

Also, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The (San Diego) Daily Transcript

(please contact me if you need help accessing full copies of these articles –  katiethisdell [at] gmail [dot] com)

Residential construction spikes in Bankers Hill:

More than 450 multifamily units and at least 14,000 square feet of commercial space are in the works for Bankers Hill, with construction beginning on several projects. Developments will range from ultra-luxury condos to boutique-designed apartments with affordable-housing options, and mid- to high-price townhomes, targeting a range of customers.

San Diego home appreciation slows:

San Diego’s real estate market is seeing a milder rise in price appreciation than in years past, good news for the local Realtor association. Price appreciation slowed in San Diego in 2014, with home prices closing out the year nearly 9 percent higher, compared to about 20 percent the year before.

SD to be featured as a National Geographic ‘Smart City’:

San Diego stakeholders have helped fund the international, widespread distribution of a National Geographic Channel documentary highlighting the city’s innovation, technology and people that make the city vibrant.

Developers spend millions for, against One Paseo:

Developer Donahue Schriber has spent more than $1 million this year fighting the controversial One Paseo, while Kilroy Realty Corp. spent almost $2 million to get city and voter support for the mixed-use project that is likely headed for a citywide vote.  Committees filed financial disclosures Thursday for Jan. 1 to March 31 — a critical period for the 1.4-million-square-foot project that has been in the works for years.

Small farm operators discuss challenges at conference:

“I’ve had a whole roller-coaster ride in my farming experience,” farmer Dennie Giles said at a panel on the economics of small-farm survival at the 28th California Small Farm Conference, held in San Diego, home to 5,732 farms. More than 600 people convened for the conference, which connected farmers, ranchers and farmers market managers, as they addressed the ongoing drought, farm bill, specialty crops, changing laws and marketing.

Urban Plantations grows business on corporate campuses:

Thanks to Karen Contreras’ growing company, the lush green space that was once a parking lot in Torrey Pines is an oasis for employees, a nature classroom and a supplier for a campus restaurant.

Millennials change face of commercial real estate:

When Jean Kane attended her first NAIOP meeting, she was surrounded by white men wearing blue suits. She felt intimidated — and says even now, as one of the top women in the industry, she still is sometimes — but she found a way to connect, embrace diversity and succeed. Kane was among the speakers at the fifth annual Women in Real Estate Conference presented Wednesday by the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

Real estate coaches guide agents to success:

As a real estate coach for years, Ashley Lunn has been paired with at least 600 agents — people who are based around the country, with different markets and different needs, and who are paying Keller Williams MAPS Coaching up to $1,000 per month for Lunn to hold them accountable as they grow their business.

Technology changes roles of real estate agents:

Carol Farrar wants to connect with her real estate clients and meet them where they already are: online. Internet platforms have become critical in all aspects of the real estate industry over the past few years: social media for marketing and communication, new applications for managing transactions, and national private MLS for searching, previewing and reviewing.

The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star

I primarily covered the county and government of Stafford, and also maintained a news blog and a food blog, and reported general news and features.

Spotsylvania abduction investigation intensifies:

A July Fourth report of child abduction gripped Spotsylvania County for hours, and I posted updates and called in radio reports from the scene. Police never received a report of a missing child, and called off the search later that week.

Legoland considers building theme park:

Legoland is considering building a new family-friendly theme park in Stafford County that would be only the third of its kind in the nation. Government officials are in the preliminary stages of considering an incentives package to woo the park to the Centreport Parkway area off Interstate 95. The decision could hinge on the financial impact the interactive, child-oriented theme park could bring.

Family’s loss sparks lifesaving campaign:

After their daughter died, the Griffin family pushed for local and state laws about CPR training in schools. They shared their story for the first time here, and less than a year later, reflected on how the new law was already saving lives.

‘It’s a monumental occasion’:

If you’re in Fredericksburg, it’s likely you’ll come upon a battle reenactment. I reported on a monumental one – the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Our coverage received a Virginia Press Association award.

‘He was hit by a tractor-trailer‘:

A Stafford County supervisor was hit on Interstate 95–and survived. Weeks later, he returned to the county dais, was elected chair of the board, and reflected on that near-fatal night.

Stafford woman’s site is a hit with foodies:

The blogger behind the popular Alexandra Cooks blog shares how she chronicles her life in the kitchen, through captivating writing and stunning photography.

Aquia’s Milde gives, receives:

Why would a local elected official–basically running unopposed–raise more than all other candidates combined? I take a look at campaign finance reports in the county race.

Continuing coverage on waste-to energy project:

A Stafford County board approved a controversial waste-to-energy plant but residents cried out that the process was flawed, formed opposition groups, and companies asked for a re-bid. The governing body reexamined the proposed plant after weeks of discussion, and while the company contended that the project was safe, the board rescinded its vote, and then asked professionals to help.

Women embark on memorable cookie swap:

Since 1987, Kathleen Glass’s cookie swap has been an excuse for a dozen or so women to get together, and they all say it’s a special event. A lot can happen in a year—but even more happens over 26 years. That’s how long these women—mostly wives of doctors—have been celebrating Christmas cookie exchanges together. They’ve oohed and aahed over births, raised children and watched them move around the country, and now they ogle over smartphone photos of new grandbabies. Each leaves with dozens of cookies, to stash and to share.

Mom and daughter bond through baking:

In this first person piece, I share how my mother instilled in me a love of fresh, homemade food, and how we embarked on a cookbook challenge together, though we lived across the state from each other.

James Madison University – Videos

The following videos were produced with Bekah Lowe for a video journalism course.

Ron Sharp makes guitars at his Fort Defiance home. It all begins with cutting red spruce in West Virginia. Sharp now hopes to share his love and talents with others.

Wayne Engel runs the Stonewall Jackson Inn Bed & Breakfast in Harrisonburg, especially popular during weekends like graduation.

The Breeze

Sundays and Wednesdays were devoted to editing, designing and finalizing JMU’s independent newspaper, The Breeze. As editor-in-chief, I oversaw a staff of dozens of editors, reporters and photographers, planned coverage, edited copy and designed spreads.

Links coming soon.

National attention: The highlight of my (still short) came when The Washington Post editorial board declared that I “had a better sense of the law” than a county’s veteran elected prosecutor. I didn’t ask to be the center of a national media story, but when the Commonwealth’s Attorney stormed into our newsroom with a search warrant and demanded hundreds of photos from a block party-turned-violent-riot, it was an affront to our First Amendment rights. Working with the Student Press Law Center and one of their attorneys, our paper eventually received an apology and we agreed to share a select few images with the prosecutor. None were ever used in the courtroom.


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