Paul Knight had enjoyed writing, and reading newspapers and magazines, as a student at Wylie High School. At UNT, he worked his way up to managing editor of the North Texas Daily. But after working for the Daily for two years, he says he was burned out from writing what he considered to be formulaic journalism, and considered not working in the field after graduation.
His outlook changed in 2005 after George Getschow, principal lecturer in journalism and writer-in-residence for the annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, talked him into attending the first conference and the first literary nonfiction writing class in Archer City before the conference.
In Archer City, Knight met 73-year-old C.S. Green at the American Legion hall, and began writing a long story on Green and other American Legion regulars, using narrative journalism techniques. He worked on the story for weeks — and decided that long-form journalism was the career for him.
“I think that anyone who wants to go into journalism should decide the exact type of writing that you want to do and are passionate about. I know others who are writing and making a living in journalism, but they’re not writing what they really want to write about, in the form in which they want to write,” he says.
Knight became Getschow’s teaching assistant and helped to organize the 2006 conference, where he met notables in long-form journalism such as Skip Hollandsworth, a longtime writer for Texas Monthly.
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But Knight didn’t start out in magazine-style, narrative journalism after he graduated. He was a general assignment reporter for Mobile Press-Register for almost a year, until a friend from UNT’s journalism program mentioned him to the executive editor of Village Voice Media, which owns the Houston Press.
In September 2007, Knight became a reporter for the Press, an alternative newsweekly that primarily publishes magazine-length investigative stories and profiles. His favorite stories for the publication include a profile of the 2010 basketball team of Houston’s Yates High School, which won the state championship; an investigation into the beating of a Texas A&M University student by two members of the university’s Corps of Cadets; and a profile of a bumbling thief in East Texas.
In February 2010, Knight was recognized by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting, for his magazine-length story about the dangers of acceleration in the Toyota Prius that was published in April 2009 — months before the topic made international headlines.