About Me

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news media entrepreneur who values good journalism

I’m a news media entrepreneur with a strong technology background and experience developing editorial strategy, raising capital, and building and leading teams to produce award-winning work. I’ve built two independent content-driven media startups from scratch and am now getting into developing technology for other media companies.

My first media startup, Dominion of New York, attracted the attention of three investors and an offer to buy it. With support from that investor, I have pivoted from that startup to another one, Deep End, the first African-American long-form journalism magazine.

Although I began my career working in Silicon Valley, I’ve spent most of professional life as a journalist. I have 13 years of journalism experience, including 5 years specializing in high-impact, award-winning literary and investigative journalism and 4 years specializing in magazine and web editing.

Awards that I’ve won include the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi for magazine investigative reporting, an Academy for Alternative Journalism Fellowship to study at Northwestern University,two Chicago Society of Professional Journalists awards,
a Chicago Bar Association award for excellence in criminal justice reporting, and the H.F. Guggenheim award for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting.

I’m always looking to network with fellow entrepreneurs and, for Deep End, I’m looking for experienced long-form writers. I’m also open to discussing consulting opportunities and making introductions that can help you reach your business and professional goals. Please get in touch!

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  • NAMEKelly Virella
  • AGE38
  • CITYNew York, NY
  • EDUCATIONPrinceton University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley
  • PASSIONSEntrepreneurship, technology, long-form journalism, beautiful design, reading, travel & the great outdoors
  • AWARDS2013 IWMF Grantee, 2012 Sigma Delta Chi for magazine investigative reporting
  • CONSULTINGAvailable

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Portfolio

Dominion of New York

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Dominion of New York

This is my first start-up, a local news blog and site targeting New York City's African-American community. Despite my industry experience, my learning curve was very steep. Still I managed to attract a large audience quickly with zero dollars spent on marketing. We reached 70,000 unique visitors in 8 months and began selling advertising. Our first sale was to BMW. The site attracted interest from 3 investors, one of whom expressed interest in buying it. I decided to focus instead on working with that investor to create something new, my current project The Urban Thinker.

The Urban Thinker Magazine

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The Urban Thinker Magazine

This is my new startup. It's a tablet magazine of ambitious long-form writing for avid urban writers. The International Women's Media Foundation gave me a grant to help start this. I'm also working with an investor who is advising me and helping me together a business development deal.

My Scariest Assignment

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My Scariest Assignment

I heard that inmates at a jail in Kankakee County, Illinois were being tortured by jail guards wielding Tasers. The inmates said that Cook County Jail in Chicago was sending its most uncooperative inmates to nearby Kankakee County Jail to be tortured. I had to know if it was true, so I travelled to 7 or 8 prisons and jails around Illinois -- including the notorious Statesville -- to find out what really happened. I didn't sleep well during this project.

Criminal Justice Reporting

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Criminal Justice Reporting

My investigative reporting focused on criminal justice. I got interested in that sort of thing in the summer of 2007 when I started working on this piece. It's about the spread of the MRSA virus from Cook County Jail to children on Chicago's South Side.

Arts & Culture Reporting

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Arts & Culture Reporting

Though I'm known primarily as an investigative reporter and editor, I also like writing about arts & culture. Here's a 4,000-word piece I did many years ago about San Francisco Bay Area visual artist Brian Brooks. He's the conceptual artist who helped catapult the character Emily the Strange to international fame.

2012 Sigma Delta Chi Winner

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2012 Sigma Delta Chi Winner

This 15,000-word story is an investigation into the sexual abuse of New York State female prisoners by prison staff. My investigation found that some staff who raped prisoners were never prosecuted and kept their jobs. Subsequently, one of the women she profiled won her lawsuit against the New York State Department of Corrections.

Contact

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Resume

Kelly Virella 2011 Public Resume