A year later, with only high school journalism experience, I joined friends in starting an alternative newspaper in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After our second issue, a local community center called to ask if we’d write about a migrant camp where, it turned out, workers in squalid conditions were forced by men with guns to pick tomatoes, and, when there were no tomatoes, weeds. In my reporting, I learned that the state had lauded the camp for excellence. Later that year, the Pennsylvania secretary of labor called to tell me that, as a result of my story, the state had closed the camp, banished the crew leader from Pennsylvania, and set forth new regulations to prevent abuses like those I’d exposed. After several years in alternative journalism, I went to Columbia Journalism School, where Fred Friendly, a producer for “Harvest of Shame,” taught, and then on to a career as a national TV journalist, teacher, and author.
Harvest of Shame” on TV while I was working on a study of hospital decision-making in a strip-mining region of West Virginia. The documentary made me understand, for the first time, the power of the press to expose wrongdoing and inequity and to promote social change. That night, I resolved to become a journalist.A newly minted college grad, in 1970, I happened to catch a rerun of “