Michelle Hackman | Journalist

Michelle Hackman is a journalist living in New Haven, CT. She is a
senior at Yale University with a particular interest in politics on
all levels, crime and mental health.


A Selection of My Work For The Wall Street Journal

View my full list of stories here: http://topics.wsj.com/person/H/michelle-hackman/8031


“Washington Plan to Tax Yoga Leads to Political Posturing” – Wall Street Journal

I visit an outdoor Yoga class on Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, where the Yogis have come to protest a proposed new sales tax on gyms and fitness studios. This story appeared as a page 1 a-hed in the Wall Street Journal. I also wrote a couple of follow-ups: Effort to Stop Washington's Yoga Tax Fails and Final Twists in Washington Yoga Tax Fight.


“Republican Senate Primary in Alaska Goes Down to the Wire” – Wall Street Journal

A profile of the testy 2014 Republican Senate Primary in Alaska, one of the most competitive races of the cycle.


“Ex-Reagan Press Secretary James Brady Dies at 73” – Wall Street Journal

The paper’s obituary for Jim Brady, Reagan’s celebrated press secretary who suffered a bullet wound to the head during an assassination attempt on the President in 1981.


“House Passes Bill to Speed FDA's Sunscreen Approvals” – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved a new sunscreen since 1999, so Congress passed a bill to force its hand. I look at what’s been slowing the agency down and how Congress might be able to help.


“Q&A: Obama’s Possible Actions on Immigration” – Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire Blog

An explainer on the immigration-related executive actions within President Obama’s legal toolkit.


“What is a Jucy Lucy and Why is President Obama Eating One?” – Wall Street Journal Washington Wire Blog

In which I was asked to write an explainer on the President’s lunch. Here’s what I concocted.


“How the Buttered Pierogi Toss Caught On” – Wall Street Journal, Page 1 story

Summer festivals are the economic and cultural lifeblood of the Midwest. I visit one festival, dedicated to Pierogis, and talk to the competitors in its culminating event, the Buttered Pierogi Toss.


Students Set a New Course with off-Beat Majors – Wall Street Journal

Students are often advised to pursue the most practical majors they can find, the ones that sound most like jobs. That got me wondering: who are the people majoring in highly obscure fields, often that they make up themselves? I don’t find any “under water basket weavers,” but I do talk to people majoring in “love,” “pop culture” and “self-actualization” to understand why. 


“Drone Delivers Medicine to Rural Virginia Clinic” – Wall Street Journal

This article explores the first FAA-approved drone delivery in the United States - to deliver medicine to a pop-up clinic in rural Virginia. But it also highlights the numerous hurtles before drone deliveries become commonplace.


“Chicago Statues Find Their Voice” – Wall Street Journal

Have you ever gazed up at the stony visage of a statue and wondered, "what are you thinking?" Well, now you can know, with the wave of a cell phone. A new initiative in Chicago has recorded 2-minute monologues for 30 of the city's most iconic statues, which you can access by waving a smartphone at a plaque installed near the statue.

A Collection of My Work for Vox


"How fixing America's mental health system might catch future mass shooters" – Vox

In this piece, I survey the landscape of mental health reform and consider whether changes in the mental health system may help curb the frequency of mass shootings. I conclude that, while it is by no means a silver bullet, increased funding and reforms may curb instances of violence – and bring a whole lot of other good besides.


"The Obama administration is quietly trying to make it harder to study public officials" – Vox

My story is first to highlight the Obama Administration’s efforts to close a loophole in academic ethics regulations that previously allowed scholars open access to public officials. The move, if finalized, would have the effect of shutting down academic research on the nation’s most powerful public institutions and the actors running them. 


"Is Hillary Clinton 'likable enough'? Science has an answer." Vox

I take a look at the evidence, from the literature on political psychology and workplace leadership, and conclude that “likability” doesn’t play a huge role in a politician’s success – but it might be a more significant factor for a female politician. 


"Why 10 states want to ban drones from flying over prisons" – Vox

A trend piece examining the motivations of ten state legislatures considering legislation to ban drones from flying in the vicinity of state prisons. As of late, drones are the preferred method for sneaking contraband – such as drugs and weapons – past watchful guards and high prison walls. 


"Sanders won all demographic groups that were supposed to be easy wins for Clinton" – Vox

A quick take on the exit polls coming out of New Hampshire. 


"What the media gets wrong about young voters" – Vox

A Q&A with Kei Kawashima-Ginsburg, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the proclivities of young voters. 

A Smattering of Work for Other Publications


"Obstacles and opportunities for journalists with disabilities" – Nieman Reports

For its issue commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I weave together the stories of several journalists with disabilities to capture the unique obstacles and opportunities they encounter in their work. 


"Stump Speech" – The Toast

A conversation with Cyrus Habib, a blind politician running for Lieutenant Governor in Washington, leads to a reflective essay on what it means to be a person with a disability in the public eye. 


"Should Nick Get a 'Second Look'?" – The New Haven Independent

One day before the Connecticut legislature was due to hold a public hearing on a bill that would make its juvenile sentencing laws more forgiving, I published a profile of one inmate whose life would be altered by the bill's passage. Nick Aponte was given 38 years in prison when he was 17 years old for serving as an accomplice to felony murder. I use Nick's case to explore the unique social and psychological factors that separate youth and adults.


“New Cops on the Block” – The New Journal, Cover Story

Police officers are often the first officials individuals with mental illness encounter when they are experiencing a crisis. If a police officer does not know how to properly work with mentally ill individuals, they can inadvertently make the situation worse - setting off a cascade of unintended legal consequences that sometimes leads to incarceration. A new program in Connecticut seeks to train officers to properly recognize and handle mental illness so that individuals in crisis receive treatment rather than jail time. I spend the evening with one such officer to observe how his training affects the way he handles crises.


“Walking a Beat: ‘Community Policing’ in New Haven” – WSHU Public Radio

The New Haven Police Department has asked its cops each to walk the same set of streets night after night, in hopes that the officers might get to know their assigned communities and the people living in them. I take a walk with two beat cops to see how it works – and judge whether it works. This piece won me a 2nd place award in the 2013 PRNDI category of “Hard News Feature.”


“Truth in advertising under microscope” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An examination of how distorted an advertisement has to be before it violates the law, inspired by the Kellog Co. Frosted Mini-Wheats commercials which claimed that eating the breakfast cereal would make kids 11% more attentive in school.


“Workzone: Negativity can paralyze workers” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a weekly work advice column, I examine the effect of negative thinking on an employee’s ability to perform his or her job.

Reporting on Yale, New Haven and Connecticut in the Yale Daily News


“Invisible: Disability at Yale” – Yale Daily News Arts and Living Supplement, Cover

In this part-reported piece, part-autobiographical essay, I attempt to chronicle - and understand for myself - what it's like to move through a college social environment such as Yale with a noticeable physical disability.


“A Tale of Two Newspapers” – Yale Daily News Magazine

Across the country, small, non-profit newsrooms are popping up to fill a void left by folding hometown newspapers – and, often, they’re outperforming the behemoths they replace. But can they keep up their funding streams long enough to last?


“Register parent company announces bankruptcy” – Yale Daily News

A precursor to “A Tale of Two Newspapers”, The parent company of New Haven’s flagship Daily entered bankruptcy proceedings in Sept. 2013.


“Running on Empty” - Yale Daily News Arts and Living Supplement, Cover Story

I travel with a group of Yale College Democrats to knock on voters’ doors in Pennsylvania, just two weeks before the 2012 Presidential election, and find that they are feeling as much apathy and despair as the voters they are trying to sway.


“Breaking the Glass Beaker” – Yale Daily News Arts and Living Supplement, Cover Story

A look at the factors holding women back from pure math and hard science, even at Yale.


“Conn. City Reacts to Elementary School Massacre” – Yale Daily News

On the ground in Newtown, Conn. On the day of the shooting - Before the media had developed a vocabulary to describe the event and its scarring aftermath.


“State gun hearing draws thousands” – Yale Daily News

The raw emotional divide defined this Connecticut legislative hearing on proposed new gun restrictions in the wake of the Newtown shootings.


“Sequester Squeezes Scientists” – Yale Daily News

Six months after federal sequestration went into effect, a look at how decreased funding had impacted Yale’s scientists.

Michelle Hackman | michelle.a.hackman@gmail.com