Who is Michael Scott Davidson?
At age 25, Davidson is a journalist on the rise.
He last worked as the North Port city reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. During his tenure he juggled breaking news, covering local government and conducting short and long-term investigations.
Davidson prides himself on maintaining a strong digital presence and using public records as the basis for compelling watchdog journalism.
In 2015 he published "Scarred," a three-part series exposing the violent practices of a local police K-9 unit. Investigative Reporters and Editors devoted a podcast episode to Davidson's reporting.
After being laid off due to corporate downsizing, Davidson is seeking his next job as a journalist. He hopes to join a media outlet that thinks digital first and encourages combining detailed narratives and information mined from data and documents.
A Love For Storytelling
Born in Mississippi and raised in the far reaches of the Florida Panhandle, Davidson cannot recall a time in his life when literature was not paramount.
As a child he pored over Harry Potter novels. In his teens he devoured Stephen King paperbacks. He dreamed of being a professional writer.
Then, the same year Davidson learned to drive, his aunt bought him a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
It was a pivotal moment in Davidson's life. The magazine exposed him to a world of intriguing writing and in-depth investigations of public officials and procedures.
Today, Davidson enjoys writing these stories the most.
In 2015 when North Port city commissioners enacted a new public records policy that violated Florida law and threatened access, Davidson was the first to interview the state's First Amendment Foundation. The city consulted with the foundation and amended the policies.
Earlier this year the young reporter exposed that the city manager had not given any of his department directors a written performance evaluation since joining the city in 2011. Davidson's reporting found that this practice did not only apply to the city’s highest paid employees but had also spread to their subordinates.
When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating a local police officer for a violent and allegedly false arrest, Davidson broke the news.
“What impresses me the most about him is that he wants to learn... Nothing is too small. Everything is an opportunity.”
— Michael Braga, 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for Investigative Reporting
Davidson only spent two years at the Herald-Tribune due to corporate downsizing, but while there he earned the admiration of reporters and editors many years his senior.
Michael Braga, investigations editor for the Herald-Tribune and a winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism, described Davidson as "dogged, persistent, relentless - a real hammerhead when it comes to pursuing a story and sticking with it in the face of criticism."
"He’s not afraid of the confrontational interview and has the empathy needed to draw details from a reluctant source," Braga continued.
Deputy Investigations Editor Emily Le Coz praised Davidson's ability to "turn an otherwise sleepy beat into a constant source of interesting copy for our newspaper."
And David Hackett, Davidson's former assigning editor, said he "has the competitiveness and hustle to be first with a breaking story, and the multi-media reporting chops to tell that story across multiple platforms, starting with social media and including words, photos and video."