During a 27-year television news career, I reported stories that illuminated important public issues, righted wrongs, spoke truth to power, changed public policy, and in some cases saved people from harm. I could not have done this alone. I worked with a team of extremely talented producers, photographers, and news managers who were guided by the highest journalistic standards.
I’m grateful that my peers in the journalism community saw fit to recognize our reports with the highest awards of broadcast journalism including the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Reporting and three Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Awards for Investigative Reporting.
In 2008, I crossed the digital divide from traditional media to a new media communications adviser. Since then my business colleagues and I have explored how to blend video story telling with Internet applications in order to build audiences for online information networks.
My experience from working on a creative process oriented team and the deadline pressures of “breaking news” ideally equipped me to handle the always-connected-fast-changing media environment of the digital world. I will also never forget the lessons of remaining cool under fire as an embedded reporter with lead elements of the U.S. Army during the invasion of Iraq.
In 2010, The University of Texas at Dallas awarded me a “Certificate in Entrepreneurship” for completing a nine-month course at its Institute for Innovation which is geared to launching start-up ventures.
I currently serve as the Vice-President of Media at WrightIMC, an integrated marketing communications agency in Dallas and am the co-founder of three online video ventures.
As an Outstanding Alumnus from the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, my most rewarding experiences come as a regular guest lecturer on creativity, entrepreneurship, and digital media. I conduct one project each semester with a 170-member honors class.
My news reports were featured on the CBS Television Station Group, WFAA-TV (Channel 8 News ABC) in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, 60 Minutes, ABC News Nightline, CNN, and ESPN. Some of the subjects of my investigative reports later found themselves in prison.
I intimately know politics and government from covering the White House, Capitol Hill, The Pentagon, State Department, New York State Legislature, Texas Legislature, and countless disasters.
I garnered widespread respect among the law enforcement and homeland security communities. The FBI in conjunction with the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group asked me to participate on a panel that produced a landmark report entitled “Threats to Symbols of American Democracy” that underscored issues that would later tragically unfold during the 9-11 attacks. .
The American Bar Association awarded me its Silver Gavel Award in 1994 for “Free To Kill”, a series of investigative reports that uncovered corruption in the Texas parole and prison system. The three-year investigation exposed how notorious serial killer; Kenneth McDuff had received early parole. In the wake of Riggs’ reports, McDuff became the first person in Texas history to receive two death penalty convictions for his killing spree. This series marked some of the most satisfying work of my career.
“American Justice” on the Arts & Entertainment network produced an hour-long report about my investigation of McDuff in 1999 and it continues to air today as the series most popular episode.
The reports prompted the federal prosecution of top state officials and the first overhaul of the Texas penal code in twenty years. Legislators enacted a mandatory life sentence for violent offenders named the “McDuff Law” that surely has saved people from harm caused by a revolving door prison system.
The Dallas Crime Commission awarded its first ever “Excellence in Crime Reporting Award” to me in 1999. The Commission commended our reports about the origins of an epidemic problem of counterfeit check and identity theft rings in North Texas as well as a landmark documentary about the Mexican black tar heroin traffickers who caused the overdose deaths of dozens of teenagers in an affluent North Dallas suburb.
The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the Texas Press Association awarded me its “Freedom of Information” award in 1996 for a series of reports that uncovered how the accused killer of a nine-year old girl had been improperly released on early parole. The reports resulted in passage of a sex offender registration and public notification law in Texas.
I received my third Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Award and first Peabody Award in 1997 for a series of reports about allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD).
In 1992 the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Awards’ ceremony cited my reports from the first Gulf War as the story everyone missed. I broke a code of silence among journalist to reveal how the Pentagon had banned U.S. soldiers from holding religious services in Saudi Arabia during the buildup to the invasion. The report became a topic of testimony by the late CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite in a congressional hearing and the ban was revoked by the Pentagon.
Three years after my entry into journalism, I received my first Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Award in 1981 for a ten-part series of reports entitled “Downhill Dollars” that uncovered corruption and safety defects in the construction of facilities for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, I served as a legislative assistant and committee investigator for the late Congressman Wright Patman of Texas. As Chief Investigator for the Joint Committee on Defense Production, I held a top-secret security clearance and directed inquires into abuses stemming from the Watergate scandal that contributed to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. My political experience included work as a field operative in a presidential campaign and management of a congressional campaign.
The foundation for my current new media work is built on a long association with noted anthropologist, art expert, and filmmaker, the late Edmund Carpenter who contributed the intellectual basis for the media discourse of Marshall McLuhan. My friend and mentor, the late Bob Squier, also shaped my understanding. Squier, a duPont Award winning documentary filmmaker, was regarded as a master of political imagery and produced TV spots for Democratic Presidential and Senatorial campaigns.
It has been a pleasure to give back to Texas A&M by starting the endowment for the Alan Stacell Creativity Fund at which supports student projects outside of the classroom and the endowment for the Professor Rodney Hill Chair in Architecture. I currently serve on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Architecture, which is home to one of the top Visualization schools in the world.
My wife Beth and I have served on board of the The Gladney Center For Adoption which is the nation’s oldest existing adoption agency. Beth, an avid lover of horses, co-founded HorseRidingChannel.com. She is a former professional dancer, former staff member for the late Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen, schoolteacher, and morning television mom feature reporter.
My business profile is located on LinkedIn.
Visit my YouTube Channel to view more than 200 of my news reports as well as other media.
Video links to selected news reports:
• Corruption Investigation results in federal prison sentence for a senior Texas state representative.
• Investigation of a deadly friendly fire incident during the Invasion of Iraq featured on 60 Minutes.