I've covered a wide variety of topics as a journalist. Most recently, I chased sirens on the cops beat in Colorado Springs. Now I'm an editor for SNEWS, a site for outdoor industry trade news, and a freelance writer. Here are some of my best articles. Questions? Comments? Assignments for me? Email me at kassondracloos@gmail.com.

Summiting Old Rag made me fall in love with solo adventures

For Hiking Project, April 5, 2017

Even without a hiking buddy to talk to, I was far from bored. My own company, like my own pace, was perfectly sufficient. Solitude, I realized, was not the same as loneliness.

Canon City High School / Nick Cote for The New York Times

Canon City High School / Nick Cote for The New York Times

Two stories for the New York Times, published Nov. 6 and Nov. 7, 2015

Canon City, Colo., is in the heart of America's prison country. If you've heard of the small, rural city, it's likely been in the same breath as the federal Supermax. But in late 2015, it was thrust into the national spotlight when hundreds of teens at Canon City High School were caught trading nude selfies - allegedly like baseball cards. I covered the controversy for page A1 of The New York Times, and wrote a followup story about how the town dealt with the discovery of its kids' dark secret.

Two Colorado Springs brothers were stopped, forced out of their car, frisked and handcuffed without explanation. A YouTube video shows officers refusing to say why they had pulled over Ryan and Benjamin Brown, and Ryan is pulled out of the car at gunpoint. The ACLU has accused the officers of stopping them for "driving while black."  My story went national and I was interviewed on NPR's "Here & Now" about the case. The investigation is ongoing and the Browns' cases have been transferred to county court. Police have refused to release documents explaining why the officers were cleared of wrongdoing.

Colorado Springs man forced to ground at gunpoint for trying to start own car

For The Gazette, published July 15, 2015
A young black man was handcuffed at gunpoint in May after a security guard called 911 and reported a possible attempted auto theft. Matthew Talley lost his keys coming back from the courthouse and a bystander called a locksmith. When he got into the vehicle, he tried to jimmy the car to start with a knife, and not too long after, four police officers showed up, guns pointed at him, and he was handcuffed. Police say no report was written about the incident.

Attempted Bombing of NAACP Building

Jan. 6, 2015, someone tried to set off an improvised explosive device made of a road flare, pipe bomb and gas can outside the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP. The gas can failed to ignite and no one was injured. Volunteers returned to the office two days later. The FBI investigated and arrested Thaddeus Murphy, of Colorado Springs, on Feb. 19 on suspicion of arson. Murphy told investigators he was targeting an accountant who worked in the building, according to an arrest affidavit, but the man had been dead more than six months at the time of the explosion, and no tax offices currently operate in the building.

On Jan. 8, 2015, I appeared on MSNBC's The Reid Report to discuss what was known about the case at the time.

On Jan. 8, 2015, I appeared on MSNBC's The Reid Report to discuss what was known about the case at the time.

Richard "Dick" French gets creative as a military photographer in the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Laurel Barrett.

Richard "Dick" French gets creative as a military photographer in the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Laurel Barrett.

For The Gazette, published March 30, 2015

"It was exactly the way he wanted to go," said his granddaughter, Laurel Barrett, 27. "It was a shock. My mom and I were the ones who found him."

Barrett said French was a lively man with a great sense of humor. He was the kind of guy who would put a plow on his riding lawnmower so he could clear the driveways for the "old ladies" nearby who were younger than he.

He was stubborn, too. At 86 years old, he refused to let anyone help him retile his garage roof, Laurel Barrett said. He made a makeshift elevator to get supplies up to the roof and did the project himself.

"It made them crazy," his neighbor of 10 years, John Cunningham, said of French's family. "They'd come over there and there he was, up on the damn roof again."

 

News21: Who can vote: Voting Rights, voter fraud and election integrity 

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In the months before the 2012 presidential election, many states started passing prohibitive voter identification laws that threatened to challenge the ability to exercise one of the United States' most basic and most fought-for rights. As a News21 fellow, I spent eight months in a collaborative newsroom investigating serious election issues with a small group of students from colleges around the country. I was a lead researcher for our extensive voter fraud database, for which I submitted more than 100 public records requests. We found no more than a tiny handful of in-person voter fraud cases in the thousands of elections held throughout the country from 2000 to 2012. Three of us wrote about the ways voter ID adversely and disproportionately affects minorities in the South, and I spent months working with a freedom of information organization in Tennessee to obtain hundreds of emails from state representatives about the ID laws. The story was published by NBC News.

Ctrl + Alt + Deceased: Colorado Springs man shoots computer to death

For The Gazette, published April 20, 2015

A funny police blotter post, about a man cited after he shot his non-functioning computer, turned into a viral article that made it all the way across the pond to the BBC.

"The penalty for the citation will be up to a judge, police said, adding that Hinch was good-natured about the citation and hadn't realized he was breaking the law when he went Wild West on that useless piece of technology.

Hinch shot it eight times, Strossner said, "effectively disabling it."

The computer is not expected to recover."

Gorgeous Fossil Creek is Arizona's Worst-kept summer secret

Just past the waterfall, where everyone congregates, Fossil Creek becomes a private oasis. Photo by Nick Cote.

Just past the waterfall, where everyone congregates, Fossil Creek becomes a private oasis. Photo by Nick Cote.

For The Gazette, published Sept. 6, 2015

"Anyone who brushes off Arizona's three-digit high temperatures with a shrug ("Well, it's a dry heat, right?") has never lived there in July.

Perhaps that's why Fossil Creek is the state's worst-kept secret. At the end of a dusty, steep, 4-mile descent, the clear, turquoise water would appear to be a mirage if it weren't for the leafy trees that suddenly get in the way of the trail, and the dozens of people passing one another and clambering for real estate in the small camping area."

Sustaining life, in more ways than one, with organic farming jobs in Cuba

Tractors are a rare sight at OVA. Photo by Kassondra Cloos.

Tractors are a rare sight at OVA. Photo by Kassondra Cloos.

Multimedia project for The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 2013

A farming model so simple, it seems complicated. Here's a look at life at one successful organic cooperative just outside the bustling streets of Havana, Cuba.

"The farmers pour in after sunrise and leave before sunset. The workday is one to two hours shorter than a typical day for a government employee, depending on the season, and the pay is higher—much higher."

Shadowing the sheriff on Day One

For The Gazette, Jan. 2, 2015

After a disgraced sheriff left 12 years in office, much of his tenure marked by controversy and employees' disdain for the tense work environment, the new sheriff started making changes his first day. The formerly-forbidden fifth floor was open for business, and laughter, a sound absent from the halls for years, could be heard ringing through the corridors.

"The whole atmosphere in the office has changed, Elder said, and command staff who openly joked with one another on Thursday agreed that things were different. One said he was surprised to see Elder's door propped open, and that his first instinct was that someone needed to close it.

Elder, most recently deputy police chief in Fountain, said the door will remain open. ... He commented on how he saw people's faces change when he brought them into his office, as if they felt they shouldn't be in there.

"That was sad," Elder said. 'We can't have that.'"

INTERN CLOOS GOES SKYDIVING, SURVIVES

For The Gazette, May 2013

They totally put my "AHHH I'M FALLING" face on the front page as a teaser. Photo by Go Pro Attached To This Guy's Hairy Arm

They totally put my "AHHH I'M FALLING" face on the front page as a teaser. Photo by Go Pro Attached To This Guy's Hairy Arm

I wanted to go skydiving for a long, long time. I finally got the chance and wrote about it for The Gazette while I was a local news intern in spring 2013. For the record: I'm not scared of heights.

"I might have chickened out of Disney World's Tower of Terror in the fourth grade (I still regret it), but there was no chance I'd back out of skydiving, especially not tandem. The chances of dying while skydiving are slim, and statistics are always right. Right?

In any case, regrets of heights untackled continue to haunt me. But when the door popped open and air came rushing through the plane, there was a moment when it seemed like a better idea to curl into a ball and not risk the jump."