Chris Richard, CA

Premium Writer

Chris has written for local, state, national, and international news organizations. My freelance reporting has appeared in Marketplace, National Public Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, and The California Report. Award-winning projects include stories on prison medical care and on corruption in city government. The Fund for Investigative Journalism underwrote my series on a stalled cleanup at a nuclear meltdown site. I graduated with honors from Harvard and have a masters in journalism from USC. My wife is an acclaimed public artist. Our son and I sail tall ships.

As a StoryTerrace writer, Chris interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know him better by reading his autobiographical anecdote below.

A Story

“Does he want cream in his coffee?”

I glared at the waitress.

By age 10, I was sick of questions like that. I was sick of seeing my father recoil as though he’d been slapped. I was sick of yet another stranger treating him as a problem to be tiptoed around.

He was blind. So what?

He taught me to swim. Also, I had seen him ride a bicycle unassisted for about 50 yards, and waterski, and cut wood for a campfire, and I had heard him sing. I knew that when his Harvard classmates had elected him class marshal, that was one of the highest honors they could bestow. He was the Presbyterian minister whom I’d once copied while standing at an imaginary pulpit. By age 10, I was learning the importance of his leadership in the civil rights struggle and his work as a draft counselor during the Vietnam War. Waking late at night, I’d listen to his Braille writer pounding. It was noisy because the machine had to punch through heavy paper to raise the dots that were his alphabet. Listening to that thunder, I knew it was telling the truth. I knew he should be president of the United States.

And here this stranger stood, daring to talk past him.

“Ask him,” I barked. I hated her.

That’s how I thought in those days, and that’s how I sometimes treated people. I was afraid somebody would hurt my dad, and at the slightest hint of an affront, I attacked.

I loved my father. I hated injustice.

Reporters talk about a “fire in the belly,” a burning determination to see justice done. Believe me, I have that. I’ve covered stories where my throat tightened and my heart started pounding and tears came to my eyes, just like when I was a boy.

But half a century after that moment in the restaurant, I see many things differently than I did then. Maybe Dad’s blindness scared her. Maybe she was doing the best she could.

Teaching journalism, I’ve told students that when they feel their hair standing up and nostrils flaring, when they almost hear trumpet fanfares and are about to charge, they should stop and reconsider the facts. It’s important to see what the facts really are, all of them, and to keep an open mind. Reporters should be fair and even generous.

We’re all just people.

Get in touch today to work with Chris!