Christopher Connelly | KERA News

Christopher Connelly

One Crisis Away Reporter

Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Based in Fort Worth, he also covers stories of general interest in Tarrant County, specializing in politics and criminal justice. His reporting is regularly picked up by national shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.

Chris led KERA’s coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, filing frequently for national outlets. He’s also covered criminal justice policy in the Texas Legislature and at the local level, from the election of Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot to the way prosecutors navigate shifting marijuana policy and address wrongful convictions.

Breaking news is a big part of any reporter’s job, and Chris has been an essential part of the station’s coverage of major stories, such as the killings of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth and Botham Jean in Dallas by police officers. Beyond the daily updates to major news stories, Chris focuses on ways to address deeper issues that stand out in the major national stories, like whether a cop is really ever off duty in the eyes of the law.

The Public Media Journalists Association awarded Chris two national honors in 2019 for his reporting – in the Use of Sound and Breaking News categories – and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters gave his story about a sexual misconduct scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention a Best General Assignment award.

In  2018, the Headliners Foundation of Texas named Christopher the best radio reporter in the state for providing “calm, comprehensive journalism” and “unbiased reporting on controversial issues.” The Texas AP Broadcasters awarded best serious feature to his audio postcard from tiny Moran, Texas, where bump stocks like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter were created and manufactured.

In 2017, a story about a reclusive state Board of Education candidate in East Texas who’d called then-President Obama a gay prostitute earned him a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club, and his coverage of policing after five Dallas officers were gunned down on July 7, 2016 was key to KERA winning “overall excellence” honors in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Before moving to Texas, Chris was state legislative reporter for WYPR in Baltimore and spent a year training at NPR as a Joan B. Kroc Fellow. He earned a bachelor’s degree in gender studies from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a master’s degree in journalism at the University of California-Berkeley. His thesis was a radio documentary about heroin addicts getting sober in Zanzibar.

Ways to Connect

Keren Carrión / KERA News

The coronavirus outbreak has coincided with a surge in domestic violence calls, launching what some have called a “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence across the world. 

Without H-1B visas, critical jobs won't get filled and Texas companies will be less competitive on the global stage, says Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce's Drexell Owusu.
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The Trump Administration is planning to severely limit approvals of new H-1B visas. Companies use that type of visa to bring in temporary guest workers to fill specialized roles, and Texas could be the state most affected by the changes.

Jasmine and her kids mJasmine and her kids moved to a shelter Feburary. The facility offered safety, community and a schoved to a shelter Feburary. The facility offered safety, community and a schedule to keep busy, but that all changed once COVID-19 hit.
Keren Carrión / KERA News

Years after she left her abusive husband, Jasmine was completely out of options. She had tried to create a new life with her kids, but she’d left the relationship with no job and only $78 dollars in her pocket.

In late April, Stacey was faced with the choice to flee from abuse and violence, or stay home to avoid covid-19.
Keren Carrión / KERA News

The last time Stacey’s boyfriend strangled her, she nearly died.

“I woke up, I just felt numb. My whole body was just like, am I here? Am I dead?” she recalled thinking after she regained consciousness.

Downtown Frisco
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In the booming suburbs north of Dallas, the city of Frisco grew faster than any other large city in the country over the last decade. That’s according to a new analysis from the Census Bureau.

Eric Gay / Associated Press

The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is staggering: More than 90,000 Americans have died of the disease and more than 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. While the pain is widespread, it hasn’t been equal.

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The Supreme Court of Texas put a temporary moratorium on some court-ordered debt collections in response to the coronavirus. But before that, the number of debt collection lawsuits in Texas courts was on the rise, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trust.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Each time Clay Jenkins steps to the podium for a press conference, the Dallas County judge begins with a grim duty: An update on new cases of COVID-19 and a list of the dead. No names are given, but the age, gender and hometown are identified.

A photo of Annie Quasnitschka, decked out in personal protective equipment and carrying a portable ventilator, says she hopes the worst is over in New York. She's been there since the end of March treating patients with COVID-19.
Courtesy of Annie Quasnitschka

Annie Quasnitschka was supposed to start her new job in March. She’d left her job at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, and was planning a new life as a traveling freelancing nurse anesthetist. She’d landed her first contract. Then, all elective surgeries were cancelled.

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Last month, as Texas began to shutter businesses and cancel public events, counties across the state began cutting the number of people in local jails, concerned that the facilities offered a particularly deadly breeding ground for the pandemic. On March 1, there were more than 68,000 people in Texas jails, including people being held pre-trial and those who’d been convicted and sentenced. On April 1, there were just over 58,000.

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Texas state parks reopened this morning – albeit with some limitations, and retail stores can re-open Friday for delivery and pickup orders. These are the first steps in Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to re-open the Texas economy and begin easing back on social distancing.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Update 4/12/2020 at 8:57 pm:

Since KERA first reported this story, Mendy Forbes ⁠— an inmate at Federal Medical Center Carswell ⁠— was put into administrative segregation, more commonly called solitary confinement.

Her father, Gene Estes, says it was punishment for speaking to the media about conditions inside the prison and the fears she and other inmates have about coronavirus spreading. He says the news is upsetting, and that his daughter wasn’t trying to make the prison look bad.

Gov. Greg Abbott and some of the largest Texas counties have been wrestling with how to thin jail populations in order to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and, at the same time, keep communities safe. Not everyone agrees on how to balance the two goals.
Associated Press

As Texas' two largest counties are struggling to contain outbreaks of coronavirus in their jails, local officials everywhere are hoping to keep COVID-19 out of their local lockups.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Now, no city in Texas requires employers to provide paid time off for sick workers. The City of Dallas can no longer enforce its paid sick leave mandate, at least for now. That’s after a federal judge blocked the ordinance requiring the time off while a lawsuit proceeds.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Two weeks ago, Emilie and Tim Sherrod received a letter from the Denton State Supported Living Center. It said visitation had been suspended due to concerns about coronavirus, so they wouldn’t be visiting their identical twin sons, Ty and Tate, any time soon.

Aerial photo of the Dallas County Jail
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Five inmates at the Dallas County Jail have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Billy Bob’s Texas is best known for bull riding, boot scooting, country singing and beer drinking. But like everywhere these days, when crowds of more than 10 people are a public health concern, the party’s on pause at the world’s largest Honky Tonk. This weekend, though, the entertainment complex is taking on a critical role for North Texas: helping replenish the region’s blood supply.

man in front of tent
LM Otero / Associated Press

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties nudged downward this year to 4,471, according to an annual census of people living on the streets, in shelters and in transitional housing taken each January.

ticket taker at Dallas zoo
LM Otero / Associated Press

Of the 193 countries that in the world, 179 offer some form of paid sick leave so workers can stay home when they’re unwell. The U.S. is not one of those countries. 

doctor's office
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This story is part of the KERA One Crisis Away series, Coronavirus And Life On The Financial Edge.

The fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic is putting into sharp focus the ways inequality makes responding to disease outbreaks more challenging. As public health and other officials seek to limit the spread of the virus, the decisions they make and the guidance they offer may be undermined by the large number of Texans living on the financial edge.

Kay Granger
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger declared victory Tuesday night over challenger Chris Putnam in the Texas 12th Congressional District primary. She had nearly 60% of votes at the end of the evening.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Democrats are targeting ten Texas House districts in North Texas in 2020 that are held by Republicans, and perhaps no race is more hotly contested as the one in House District 92.

The district centers on northeast Tarrant County’s H-E-B suburbs – that’s Hurst Euliss and Bedford, not the grocery chain.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The suburbs throughout North Texas are some of 2020’s premiere political battlegrounds. With the primary vote underway, Republicans are picking their nominees to run in the November general election – for local offices, and for seats in the Texas House and in Congress. 

Allison Campolo
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Democrats see more opportunity in Tarrant County than any other to flip seats in the state capitol in Austin. They need to pick up nine seats to win control of the state House for the first time in 20 years, and are targeting five seats in Tarrant, the state’s third-largest county. 

Michael Barera / Wikimedia

These days, when Ashley Bryant drives around in her black Nissan, she does it without the anxiety she carried for six years whenever she got behind the wheel.

Tim O'Connell watching rodeo events before his bronc ride
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Tim O’Connell has won three world championships in bareback bronc riding. Last week, he stepped into Dickies Arena at the beginning of this new season to try to claim another. 

Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Since 1992, Ed Kraus has been a Fort Worth cop. In May, he was named interim police chief. Last month, he was given the job permanently. 

Dallas skyline
Justin Terveen / For KERA

More than one million people have moved to North Texas since 2010, making it the fastest growing of the large metropolitan areas in the U.S. 

Kim Neal, center, has been named Fort Worth's first police monitor.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth has named its first police monitor. Kim Neal, who is currently executive director for the Citizens Complaint Authority in Cincinnati, will take the job. 

Stephen Willeford, center, who confronted and exchanged gunfire with the Sutherland Springs church shooter in 2017, joins church and community members gathered outside West Freeway Church of Christ for a candlelight vigil Monday night.
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via / Associated Press

The congregation of West Freeway Church of Christ gathered in the sanctuary Monday night – the first time since a gunman opened fire during a service Sunday morning, killing two church members. Outside, dozens gathered at a candlelight vigil.

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