The Briscoe Center has acquired the papers of award-winning news producer and investigative journalist Steve Singer.
“I’m grateful to Steve for donating his papers,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “His exceptionally varied career—having worked for the Houston Chronicle, PBS, CBS, ABC News, CNN, and ESPN—will help scholars and students understand the connections across America’s news media landscape in new and distinctive ways.”
Singer was born in 1942 in Nyack, New York. He began writing as a teenager and served as the sports editor of his high school newspaper. After graduating from Cornell University, Singer made his way to Texas. In 1969 he began working as a general assignment reporter for the Houston Chronicle. In 1971 he and several colleagues working in Houston media began the Houston Journalism Review, which critiqued Houston media. Later in Dallas at KERA-PBS, Singer was an on-air reporter before the station started a documentary unit with Singer as its producer. His first documentary was “Big Thicket Holler,” which depicted the conflict between timber owners and environmentalists over the creation of a national park in East Texas. The award-winning broadcast was shown nationally on PBS and requested by the Library of Congress for its film collection. His next broadcast, “A Thirst in the Garden,” documented conditions of farmworkers in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. It received a George Foster Peabody Award.
In 1977 Singer joined CBS Reports with Bill Moyers, where he produced a story on Texas banking practices. In May 1978 he started at ABC’s Close-Up. His documentary on chemical waste disposal, “The Killing Ground,” received awards including an Oscar nomination, two Emmy Awards, and a Christopher Award. In 1988 Singer joined 60 Minutes, working mostly overseas with stories on the Japanese mafia and the Vietnamese boat people. He returned to Austin in 1990, where he continued his investigative work as a freelance journalist. His Texas stories included investigations of cost overruns in national parks, coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, as well as stories from the Texas-Mexico border. Singer retired in 2006.
“My career has at times resembled ping-pong, going back and forth between Texas and the media centers on the East Coast,” said Singer. “I worked in both print and broadcast across Texas, got my start in documentary film at the Dallas public television station, and helped found and edit the state’s first journalism review in Houston. So where else would be the perfect home for my papers but to join the rich collection of journalism history at the Briscoe Center, ‘deep in the heart of Texas’.”