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

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.

arial photo of dallas county jail
Shutterstock

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
Shutterstock

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.

Aaron Dean
Tarrant County Jail via Associated Press

The white former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman in her home in October was indicted on a murder charge by a grand jury Friday. 

Fort Worth City Council
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth has been the only big city in Texas with no payday lending regulations. Tuesday, the City Council put some limits on the industry, though no one seemed particularly thrilled with the result. 

Like a lot of cities, Fort Worth has been working to recruit and hire a more diverse police force. 

Five candidates for Police Monitor job at forum in Fort Worth November 20.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Five experts on police reform and accountability pitched themselves to residents at a forum and reception in Fort Worth this week.

Christina Brooks answered questions at the October forum for Fort Worth's diversity and inclusion director candidates.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The city of Fort Worth has named its first Diversity and Inclusion Director. Christina Brooks was previously the first diversity and inclusion officer and LGBTQ liaison for the city of South Bend, Ind.

Brooks was one of six finalists brought in to interview and answer questions at a community forum last month.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Fort Worth's City Manager David Cooke has named an outside panel of experts to review the Fort Worth Police Department's policies and practices. Now, it's up to the city council to approve hiring the eight police reform specialists.

Fort Worth's diversity and inclusion officer candidates
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The City of Fort Worth is looking to hire a Diversity and Inclusion Director, and it moved one step forward in the process this week. Six finalists got a chance to pitch themselves to residents Monday, and the forum exposed tensions and mistrust that the winning candidate will face.

Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old woman shot to death by a police officer in her own home, was remembered on Thursday by family and friends as a loving aunt who overcame difficult circumstances to become the first in her family to graduate from college and had her eyes set on becoming a doctor one day.

Atatiana Jefferson's funeral
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

A few hundred mourners gathered at Concord Church in Dallas Thursday to mark the life and death of Atatiana Jefferson. It was a funeral focused on the life that she lived, and a call to action for systemic change.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

The case against the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a woman in her home is now in the hands of the Tarrant County District Attorney. District Attorney Sharen Wilson says her office will prosecute ex-cop Aaron Dean to the fullest extent of the law in the killing of Atatiana Jefferson.

Steven Martin via flickr

Community activists in Fort Worth have issued a list of demands to the city’s leadership in the wake of Atatiana Jefferson’s killing in her home by a Fort Worth police officer. City officials responded Friday by saying some of the demands aren’t possible and others aren’t practical, but on some others, they're open to a conversation.

Associated Press

When James Smith called a non-emergency number early Saturday morning, he was worried. He wanted to make sure his neighbor, Atatiana Jefferson, was OK.

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