Bettinita Harris' award-winning journalism career has spanned more than 20 years at some of the nation's most prestigious newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and The Tampa Tribune. The hallmark of her work as a reporter and editor has been the rare ability to capture t.... more
Bettinita Harris' award-winning journalism career has spanned more than 20 years at some of the nation's most prestigious newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and The Tampa Tribune. The hallmark of her work as a reporter and editor has been the rare ability to capture the souls of her subjects and share this intimate insight with the world.
She was a pioneer in bringing to light the unseen ramifications of the AIDS crisis in the United States, becoming the nation's first journalist to tell the story of the three young Ray brothers in Florida.
After contracting HIV from infected blood transfusions used to treat their hemophilia, the boys and their family endured horrific treatment. They were expelled from public school due to hysteria over their condition and ostracized by the community.
Bettinita documented the family's struggle every step of the way in The Tampa Tribune, including their victory in federal court that returned the boys to public school and the arson of their home a week later. The family's story became front-page news across the country, and their resulting activism in educating the public and dispelling myths about AIDS is considered a seminal event in the history of the disease and its repercussions in America.
Bettinita's work as an editor includes guiding reporters on numerous stories that upended the status quo, exposed institutional wrongdoing or gave voice to heart-rending tales of suffering and struggle.
An investigation by The Commercial Appeal uncovered 80 convicted felons working in the public school system of Memphis, Tenn., leading the administration to remove the employees and change its hiring practices.
Devastating flooding in Grand Forks, N.D., resulted in Bettinita leading a team of reporters and photographers to produce special reports that vividly portrayed the damage to a small, tight-knit community and spawned an outpouring of donations from readers of the Star Tribune.
A race riot in Shreveport, La., was the impetus for the Shreveport Times’ award-winning series of stories examining the roots of conflict in the community and prompting several public forums involving nationally renowned experts in race relations.
Bettinita's knack for finding stories that resonate led The Philadelphia Inquirer to choose her as the architect for the newspaper's most ambitious undertaking in decades, the introduction of a daily publication devoted to its prized target market of Chester County, Pa., one of the nation's most affluent counties.
She orchestrated the project to tremendous success, generating 10 percent daily circulation growth at a time when newspapers across the country were losing readers in droves. The project attracted national publicity from the media.
Bettinita's experience with publishing includes serving as lead editor for “I Am A Man,” a pictorial history chronicling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s involvement in the Memphis sanitation workers strike that precipitated his 1968 assassination. She worked with numerous leaders of the civil rights movement to collect their remembrances of the event and preserve a watershed moment of U.S. history.
Another career highlight was her profile of Linda Brown Smith, a key figure in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
Bettinita lives in West Chester, Pa., and when she is not writing children’s books works as a substitute teacher in various school districts in Chester County and Delaware County. She is married and has two children and two granddaughters.