Award-winning investigative reporter David Hammer is joining WWL-TV’s investigative unit, where he will contribute to Eyewitness News broadcasts and WWLTV.com, the station announced Friday.
Hammer, a seventh-generation New Orleanian, has worked as a reporter at The Times-Picayune since 2006. He will join WWL-TV later this year.
"At the paper, I made it my mission to give my neighbors as much information as possible about Katrina recovery efforts like the Road Home program, and to be their watchdog keeping public agencies and officials honest as they handled billions in taxpayer dollars," Hammer said. "I am proud and honored to keep that tradition alive -- and to take it even further -- at WWL-TV."
WWL-TV news director Bill Siegel says the move embraces the station's historic commitment to investigative reporting.
"David's record of breaking big stories and producing award-winning work is no secret to anyone who pays attention to the news in New Orleans. He will bring groundbreaking long-form journalism to our website, while providing informative and innovative reports on our newscasts," Siegel said.
Siegel said Hammer will work closely with investigative reporter Mike Perlstein and other members of the 4 Investigates reporting staff.
Hammer has been the paper's lead investigative reporter on former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He was the first to confront the mayor about the trip he and his family took to Hawaii on a vendor's dime. He exposed many of the criminal dealings of Nagin associates Greg Meffert, Mark St. Pierre, Aaron Bennett and Frank Fradella, and Hammer broke the story that Nagin himself was the target of a federal grand jury probe.
In addition to his investigations into state and local government and politics, he led the newspaper’s investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster and broke several stories about key engineering decisions that contributed to the BP well blowout. That work won Hammer first prize for the nation's best beat reporting of 2010 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He was also part of a team of journalists that won the National Journalism Awards’ 2010 Edward J. Meeman Prize for environmental reporting, and The Associated Press Managing Editors’ top regional news writing award.
Hammer also led the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina housing recovery, including the Road Home and hazard mitigation programs. His investigative reports revealed fraud and waste in the state-run grant programs. He won the AP regional award for investigative reporting for his 2011 work uncovering graft and fraud in Louisiana’s home-elevation grant program.
A graduate of Harvard University, Hammer's previous journalism experience also includes five years spent working for newspapers in New England and four years with The Associated Press.