ProfNet Experts Available on Boston Marathon Verdict, Amtrak Derailment, Distance Learning, More

Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers, Media Industry Blog Posts

May 20, 2015, 14:47 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, May 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area.

You can also submit a query to the hundreds of thousands of experts in our network – it's easy and free! Just fill out the query form to get started:


  • Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure in Wake of Boston Marathon Verdict
  • Amtrak Tragedy Highlights Lack of Federal Oversight
  • Speed Control Remains Amtrak Engineer's Responsibility
  • Texas Asbestos Bill Still Hurts Victims
  • Feds Crack Down on Unsafe Trucking Operation
  • FTC's Lawsuit Exposing Charity Scam Accusations
  • Rising College Expenses, Student Debt Impacting Value of Education
  • The Importance of Distance Learning
  • Environmental Benefits of Aquaponics


  • Multimedia Reporter – New Haven Register (CT)
  • Assistant Managing Editor – American Bar Association (IL)
  • Editor-in-Chief – (NY)


  • Using Social Media to Land Writing Gigs and Make Money
  • A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer
  • ProfNet Success Story: Robyn A. Friedman, Freelance Writer


Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure in Wake of Boston Marathon Verdict
Jody L. Madeira
Associate Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
"Part of moving on involves putting a perpetrator's presence into perspective. Trials are events where it is appropriate for victims to look at a perpetrator and to demand accountability. It is often hard to avoid news of the perpetrator during arrest, trial, sentencing and execution; he can become a ubiquitous and often traumatizing magnet for media attention. Like Timothy McVeigh, while the execution will surely remove Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from both Earth and public eye, the lethal journey is longer, with many appeals and much publicity -- potentially yoking victims and their families to the perpetrator, the penal process and the trauma."
Madeira is an expert on the intersection of law and emotion is available to discuss the process of closure, the relationship between perpetrator and victims in the aftermath of a tragedy, and how the death penalty can affect the ability to move on, among other topics. She is the author of "Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure." For the book, she conducted extensive research with family members and survivors of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and found that McVeigh's presence in the media forced victims into an involuntary relationship with him and delayed their ability to heal or move forward. Madeira investigates the effects of legal proceedings, verdicts, and sentences upon victims' families; the role of empathy in personal injury litigation; and the impact of recent developments in victims' services upon the relationship between victims' families and the criminal justice system. She has published extensively on this topic.
Contact: Brianne O'Donnell,

Amtrak Tragedy Highlights Lack of Federal Oversight
Brent Walker
Aldous\Walker in Dallas
The Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia ultimately may prove to be the latest example of an industry that lacks effective governmental oversight in maintenance, operator training and passenger safety. Says Walker: "While railroads are making massive profits, they aren't investing a sufficient amount of money in those areas because there's not enough pressure compelling them to do so. Rather than just looking for a scapegoat and blaming this on one individual or factor, we need to look at this as a widespread public safety crisis. Frankly, determining what really happened and who should be accountable is going to have to happen in a court at law because of the process failures and limitations of the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board."
Walker, who has prosecuted railroad-related accidents, adds regulators frequently rely too much on self-reporting by the railroads, including the factual reports resulting from this type of accident.
Contact: Barry Pound,

Speed Control Remains Amtrak Engineer's Responsibility
Ron McCallum
Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC in Dallas
As the investigation proceeds into the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, the question of whether the disaster was caused by human error, an equipment malfunction or other unknown factors remains. Federal investigators say the train was travelling more than 100 mph in a 50 mph zone. Says McCallum: "If the automated speed governor was intentionally disabled, then Amtrak faces some serious exposure. And if, through a series of catastrophic malfunctions, the safety system simply failed to work, then it was incumbent on the engineer to manually reduce the speed to the safe zone. Disasters like this prove that, while rail travel remains largely safe, when it goes wrong, hundreds of lives may be in danger."
Contact: Amy Hunt,

Texas Asbestos Bill Still Hurts Victims
Jeffrey Simon
Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC in Dallas
Texas legislators made key improvements to HB 1492l that could negatively impact asbestos victims, but the bill should still give Texans who have been exposed to asbestos ample cause for concern. The bill would prevent asbestos victims from taking their cases to trial until after they have filed numerous claims with trust funds set up by bankrupt asbestos manufacturers to pay some victims. The delay created by the new requirements could mean victims of asbestos exposure die before they are able to have their day in court. Says Simon: "The good news is that the House removed the two worst parts of the bill: the lowered causation standard for asbestos defendants to point the finger at other possible sources of exposure, and the post-judgment sanction on plaintiffs. It's still a bad bill, but it's much better than it was."
Contact: Amy Hunt,

Feds Crack Down on Unsafe Trucking Operation
H. Peyton Inge IV
Trucking Defense Attorney
Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson, P.C. in Dallas
The recent federal shutdown of a Darlington, S.C.-based trucking operation is a reminder to all carriers of the importance of complying with hours-of-service and equipment safety regulations. Says Inge: "The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration closed a single-truck operator, though no collision occurred and no traffic citations were ever issued. Instead, the FMCSA looked at the carrier's record and concluded that cumulative maintenance issues and hours-of-service violations were so serious as to merit a revocation of operating authority. Hours-of-service violations and vehicle maintenance issues can be avoided by monitoring a driver's logs against miles driven and proactive maintenance."
Contact: Mark Annick,

FTC's Lawsuit Exposing Charity Scam Accusations
Beth Gazley
Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs
"What's going on with these charities is very much a post-Madigan v. DTA world, in which crazy telemarketing deals, like a charity that pays a telemarketing firm most of what it raises, is legal but committing fraud is not. So these cancer charities lied to donors and that is what got them."
Gazley is associate professor at the Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs.
Contact: Agata Porter,

Rising College Expenses, Student Debt Impacting Value of Education
Jack Kosakowski
Junior Achievement
"Rising college expenses and growing student debt are obviously having an impact on Millennials' perception of the value of a college education. It's important that we give young people the tools necessary to make informed choices about higher education and to better understand that student loans, when used responsibly, are an important means of achieving the American Dream."
Kosakowski is available to discuss all things related to youth and college, finances, the debt crisis and planning for college financially.
PR Contact: Dani Mackey,

The Importance of Distance Learning
Elaine Shuck
Director of Education
"The need for effective and engaging paths to learning opportunities has never been greater -- from preschool all the way through to seniors. We have the technology to deliver this learning, but it is up to us in the educational sector to live up to the promise we know is there."
Shuck, with a background in technology and curriculum, is Polycom's director of education and president of the US Distance Learning Association (USDLA). She is an expert in collaborative learning and videoconferencing.  She is known for showcasing hybrid solutions in demonstrations to K-20 educators. She is an authority in this field, and her programs have inspired learners who interact with luminaries in medicine, education, or current events. They have garnered major awards from the International Society for Technology in Education and the USDLA. Shuck works with a host of educational groups. Her other love is the outdoors, including trail bike riding and rock climbing.
Contact: Chris Navalta,

Environmental Benefits of Aquaponics
Trevor Kenkel
Springworks Farm
"I was shocked by the effects that commercial farming practices had on my local fishing hole in Montana where I grew up. The pollution I witnessed inspired me to experiment with new ways of farming that wouldn't have a negative effect on the ground water, land and wildlife."
Based in Lisbon, Maine, Kenkel is a 20-year-old entrepreneur who founded Springworks Farm, an aquaponics farm in Maine, while recuperating from traumatic concussions playing football. He was a highly recruited high school athlete and has transformed his life into something special. He can speak to aquaponics, organic farming and his new microfarm.
Expert Contact:


Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board:

  • Multimedia Reporter – New Haven Register (CT)
  • Assistant Managing Editor – American Bar Association (IL)
  • Editor-in-Chief – (NY)


Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line.

  • USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO LAND WRITING GIGS AND MAKE MONEY. As writers become more familiar with multimedia storytelling, social media has developed into a powerful tool to gather an audience and promote content -- that is, if you know how to use it. At the recent ASJA Writers Conference, five experts shared their experiences with social media and how they use it to their advantage:
  • A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FREELANCE WRITER. Ever wonder what it's like to be a freelance writer? We asked Dawn Papandrea, a full-time freelancer specializing in personal finance, higher education and family topics, to give us an insider's view of her day. She talked to us about how she finds sources, what her workday is like, the importance of not being distracted, how to schedule time off, mistakes to avoid and much more. It's great insight for anyone who works with freelancers:
  • PROFNET SUCCESS STORY: ROBYN A. FRIEDMAN, FREELANCE WRITER. Check out this month's ProfNet Success Story, featuring Robyn A. Friedman, a freelance writer for numerous outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, HotelNewsNow, City & Shore and more. Robyn tells us she has found most of her sources by using ProfNet, so we asked her for her insight on best practices:

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