Jacob Bielanski

Award-winning legal editor and journalist

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February 26, 2014
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When “Killed” Becomes “Dumped”: the Process of Reporting Crime

NOPD homicide investigation lakeview crime reporting

Police tape marks the scene on the 300 block of Kenilworth Street in New Orleans where the bodies of two men, shot to death elsewhere the same day, had been found on Feb. 23. (Jacob Bielanski)

Last Sunday evening, I was jumping over puddles trying to get a look at the scene of a double homicide.

Two young lives, yet again, ended for some horrible, not-so-clear reason. Well, my job is to do my best to bring clarity. That is why I was truly grateful to receive the following comment on my story later that evening:

Poorly written story. The title implies that the murders were committed in the 300 block of Kenilworth. However, you read a little bit more, and the wording implies that the people were shot in N.O. East, and the bodies were dumped in the 300 block Kenilworth. Come writers…………BE CLEAR WITH YOUR STORIES.

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November 12, 2013
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A Deadly Crossroads in Central City

It’s deadly down around South Claiborne Avenue and General Taylor Street–and that’s not a commentary on the crime.

In my latest piece for the Times-Picayune | Nola.com, I went to the intersection of South Claiborne Avenue and General Taylor Street to follow up on reports of a vigil. The “vigil” was for a pedestrian, Anthony Hickman, who was struck and killed by a vehicle. Once one site, I found little evidence of vigil, but plenty of evidence of a deadly situation. Continue Reading →

September 4, 2013
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“…formerly based in Madison [Wis.]”

It’s bittersweet to read the final result of my latest work, printed in this month’s Madison Magazine.

On one hand, it’s a culmination of six months work that includes my research, my words and my photos. I went to a place few other outsiders get to visit on the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic. Matt Earley was an absolutely fascinating person to work/travel with, and the people of FEDECARES were nothing short of the nation’s finest ambassadors.

But that final line, that author bio. Ouch. “Formerly.”

I miss Madison dearly. It was not a place rich in the kinds of gritty scandals which fertilize incredible journalism, but it was home. Strike that: it is home. I grew up in Wisconsin, and my greatest transformation–from “writer” to “journalist”–occurred under the city’s watchful and benevolent eye. Call it self-denial, but a piece of me shall always consider Madison “home.”

It’s just that I now live in New Orleans. And, between other projects, I write for the Nola Defender.

NOLA is an incredible place. It has no shortage of journalists yet, somehow, has a dearth of journalism. Perhaps I can import a little bit of that proud, upper-Midwest, fight-for-the-little-guy journalism to its (sinking) soil and when (or if) my work here is done, return to the warm (if climatically chilly) embrace of cheese curds and dark beer.

For now, it’s crawdads and daiquiris. And political corruption.


p.s.: It warms my heart to know that they sell Just Coffee at the Co-Op down the street from my apartment.

April 5, 2013
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For Hire: Correspondent to the Dominican Republic

Very excited to spend this April through May 14th based in the Dominican Republic city of Puerto Plata. While staying there, I’ll be reinforcing my Spanish, volunteering with Haitian refugees and, most importantly, writing.

(What I will not be doing is driving.)

Though I’ll be specifically working on a piece for Madison Magazine (coffee plantations near Santo Domingo…stay tuned!), I’m particularly excited to explore some pieces on spec, particularly the 27 Charcos/Waterfalls, the key border town of Dajabon, and the oldest surviving settlement in the “New World,” La Vega Vieja.

I take deep pleasure in writing, no matter what the pay. If any publication should stumble across this blog and be interested in exploring a story, please shoot me an e-mail. Gua-Guas (the overcapacity vans which travel the highways for a few pesos per person) make for light logistical overhead.

March 4, 2013
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A New Portfolio


Audience is important. In retrospect, the audience for the last portfolio design was me and me alone.

Among the growing tome of aging knowledge in my skull lies website production knowledge, circa Windows XP. Armed with piles of HTML and CSS knowledge, I opted to make my last website from scratch. This was as tedious as it was pointless. The end result is something that I’ve now buried shamefully onto my personal hard drive, safe from the judgmental eyes of the Internet.

This new portfolio does away with my HTML hangups and just gives you the opportunity to judge more than my web design skills. The content is the same, I just think readers will have a better time looking at it. This will also be much easier to update.

So, please, enjoy the portfolio and don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. I take criticism better than you might think.


October 29, 2009
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When Pets Pass

PetDeath PetDeath_Cover

It is an unassuming-looking place in an unassuming neighborhood—Norplex Drive, itself, looks like a kind of a graveyard for La Crosse’s aging industries. Perhaps unassuming is exactly what one needs when arranging the cremation of a beloved friend. Continue Reading →