Sally Denton and John L. Smith Investigative Reporting: The Perils and Pitfalls
Date, Time & Location
About the Event
Sally Denton and John L. Smith will discuss two of their works of investigative nonfiction (The Bluegrass Conspiracy and Running Scared, respectively) and how the compelling story subjects—a murderous drug ring in Kentucky and controversial casino kingpin Steve Wynn—continue to reverberate decades after the books were first published. Denton’s Bluegrass Conspiracy grew from her groundbreaking journalism in the 1980s. She overcame the dismissal by her colleagues and the very real dangers of the assignment to blow open the story of “The Company,” which continues to make headlines today as law enforcement follows up leads first published in the book. Smith endured years of litigation and harassment for his 1995 investigative biography of Wynn, Running Scared, only to be vindicated after Wynn was embroiled in a career-ending sex scandal in 2018. Both books are reminders that stories well told take on a life of their own.
About the Authors:
Sally Denton is an investigative reporter, author, and historian who writes about the subjects others ignore--from a drug conspiracy in Kentucky to organized crime in Las Vegas; from corruption within the Mormon Church to the hidden history of Manifest Destiny; from one of America's bitterest political campaigns to the powerful forces arrayed against Franklin D. Roosevelt. She has an extensive background in print and broadcast journalism, including newspapers, magazines, and television, and is the author of eight books of narrative history and investigative nonfiction. While the subjects of her books at first glance seem disparate, they are actually unified by a central theme of the exploration of subjects in American history--and especially in the American West--that have been neglected or marginalized. What she has done in her 30-year career is to explore the unmentioned truths about America--what the eminent scholar Daniel Boorstin called "Hidden History." She is a Guggenheim fellow, a Woodrow Wilson public scholar, a Hoover Institute Media Fellow, a Black Mountain/Kluge fellow, the recipient of two Western Heritage Awards, and has been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. She is a fourth generation Nevadan, where she began her journalism career in 1976, and is a longtime resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
John L. Smith was a longtime columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is now a freelance writer. His stories have appeared in a variety of publications including Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, The Nevada Independent, Ruralite, and Desert Companion.