In September 2011, Brendan Wegner was just 21 when he died on his first day on the job at a Bakken oil rig in North Dakota.
As our reporter Jennifer Gollan reported in her investigation last year, “Rescuers found his body pinned under a heap of twisted steel pipes melted by the inferno. His charred hands were recovered later, still gripping the derrick ladder.” Her investigation also uncovered systemic problems within the oil industry that allowed companies to escape blame when deaths happen on the job.
As part of our ongoing efforts to find new ways to distribute the essence of our investigative content, we created a play called “North by Inferno” that is based on the events in the Bakken oil fields. Playwright Jon Bernson worked with StoryWorks Director Jennifer Welch, who also directed the play, to infuse our investigative reporting with creative license to tell the story of Wegner and the other men impacted by the explosion that September day.
The play premiered and toured in North Dakota. In this scene from a performance in Oakland, California, earlier this year, a lawyer asks Jesse, an oil worker, what happened on the day that the oil pipe exploded and killed Wegner and another man.
Meghann Farnsworth is the managing director of distribution, operations and engagement for Reveal and The Center for Investigative Reporting. She manages teams dedicated to website production and management, technology, analytics, social media, distribution, newsletters, online and on-the-ground community building, arts collaborations, and youth engagement. She also helps develop and support media partnerships and collaborations for Reveal’s national public radio show and podcast. Previously, Farnsworth was the senior digital media manager at Home Front Communications in Washington, D.C., where she worked in digital media management, interactive development and outreach for nonprofit and government clients. She also served as the associate editor of Forums at PBS NewsHour, where she created interactive online forums that helped increase and engage the NewsHour's online audience. She was an inaugural member of the Online News Association-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, and she has presented at conferences across the country, including SXSW, ONA, the Logan Symposium, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and others. She earned her master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon. Farnsworth is based at Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.
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