San Francisco Chronicle, 2022
Author(s): Heather Knight | San Francisco Chronicle
Heather Knight held San Francisco’s powerful accountable in a body of work that backs up poignant opinion writing with skilled investigative reporting. Her columns have forced Bay Area public officials to act on such important issues as rampant drug abuse, homelessness, affordable housing and school board malfeasance.
The underlying premise of her work raises the question of how a community with a reputation for being the world’s epicenter of technological innovation fails at solving its own problems. Knight’s columns successfully expose dysfunction and, in the process, drive community dialogue to find solutions.
Knight tackled the unchecked fentanyl problem by telling the story of a desperate mother whose daughter was homeless and hopelessly addicted to the drug. The column captured national attention, prompting a vow from city leaders to crack down on the fentanyl trade and better connect its victims to treatment and safe shelter.
In another column, a controversial school board member who was suing her colleagues was held to account for unfairly damaging the careers and reputations of school district employees. The board member dropped the lawsuit, and the public voted her out of office in the following election.
Knight addressed homelessness by pointing out that a vacant city lot that should have been the site for 500 affordable housing units was instead being used by an upscale department store as a parking lot to valet its customers’ cars. The state is investigating why the responsible elected officials have been resistant to building more affordable housing.
Put it all together and Knight has earned the reputation as a game changer. For the Bay Area, her columns are a must read.