Sean McGoey

Award-winning data and investigative reporter

About me

I'm a journalist based in Richmond, Virginia, currently working as a data reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Before that, I was part of the reporting team behind the Pandora Papers, an investigation into global financial corruption led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism and a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Virginia.

When I'm not reporting, I host a podcast called It's Pretty OK with friends from college and enjoy reading and listening to my record collection.

You can access my resume here or scroll down for selected work examples.

Selected Writing

On per-pupil funding, Chesterfield ranks last among large Va. school systems

Richmond Times-Dispatch || April 1, 2022

Responding to a parent who pressed Chesterfield County leaders to focus more on schools and noted that the county spends less per student than all of its neighbors and the state’s large school districts, Chesterfield Board of Supervisors Vice Chairwoman Leslie Haley dismissed the numbers as false.

Haley doubled down in an email the next day saying: “I stated it last night and I will go on the record objecting to the comments in particular that stated: Chesterfield County students receive the lowest level of investment compared to kids in other similar school districts in Virginia,” according to an email obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

In response to reporter questions asking what was wrong with the data — which is compiled each year by the state education department — Haley responded by noting that the county is studying raises for teachers before deferring to a deputy county administrator.


Impasse over rebuilding George Wythe highlights Richmond's deteriorating school buildings

Richmond Times-Dispatch || February 27, 2022

Demario Lonzer could have left George Wythe High School when his family moved to Richmond’s North Side last summer. He wanted to stay, though, and now wakes up at 6 a.m. to catch a GRTC bus to a school that government officials say is in dire need of a rebuild more than 60 years after it opened.

Lonzer, 18, said he loves the school and its community in South Side, even if there are holes in the ceiling and buckets in the hallway collecting water from leaky pipes.

“They should have built a new school awhile ago,” he said. “I know I probably won’t be here once a new one is built, but I just want kids in the future to have a better school.”


Richmond is Virginia's overdose capital. Nine of 10 fatal overdoses in the city involve fentanyl.

Richmond Times-Dispatch || January 26, 2022

Virginia is on track for yet another record-breaking number of drug deaths, with the Richmond area at the epicenter, according to data released this week by the state medical examiner’s office.

More than 2,000 Virginians died of drug overdoses through the first nine months of 2021, a 17% increase over the same time frame in 2020. Virginia is on pace to record nearly 2,700 overdose deaths in 2021, a figure nearly four times higher than when the state began tracking overdoses in 2007 in response to the painkiller epidemic.

The spike in overdose deaths — 2021 is poised to be the eighth year in the past nine that Virginia saw record highs — has been driven almost entirely by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl deaths have increased every year since 2012, while deaths not related to the opioid have declined in each of the past five years.


5 ways celebrities use offshore

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists || October 4, 2021

Shakira did it. So did Ringo Starr, Claudia Schiffer, Julio Iglesias and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

They have all set up companies “offshore,” in places like the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where tax rates are low or zero and where their businesses — and their identities — are hidden from the public.

And they’re among the celebrities, politicians and billionaires named in a trove of leaked files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Those records are part of the Pandora Papers, an investigation of the offshore financial system that the rich and famous use to buy yachts and private jets, invest in real estate and protect their families’ wealth while avoiding scrutiny.

Read more at ICIJ

Disconnected: Students struggle with e-learning obstacles, lawmakers earmark solutions

Capital News Service || November 20, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After Kimberly Vasquez’s two younger sisters log into their virtual classrooms from their Baltimore home, there’s barely enough bandwidth left for the high school senior to get into her class.

“It’s a constant conflict and battle, trying to get connected, trying to learn,” the 17-year-old Vasquez said.

Her family has Comcast Internet Essentials, a low-cost broadband plan for low-income households that promises no more than the Federal Communication Commission’s minimum bandwidth for high-speed internet. But FCC guidelines caution that if several users are on a network simultaneously, the bandwidth that Internet Essentials provides may not be sufficient for video streaming on multiple devices.

The college-bound student said watching her grades fall because of remote-learning obstacles is “heartbreaking” and makes her feel “like a failure.”

Read more at Capital News Service

Confusion over federal eviction moratorium led to selective enforcement

Capital News Service || September 2, 2020

Yochebed Israel was just the kind of person Congress had in mind when it voted in March to temporarily ban many evictions across the country as the coronavirus spread.

First, the furnace in her Tampa, Florida, apartment broke, causing her electricity bill to climb above $460 a month for five months, she said. She fell behind on rent, forced to choose between keeping the lights on or paying the landlord.

Then she said she caught COVID-19 from her daughter in April, missing two months of work without full sick pay as a certified nursing assistant at a long-term care center. She had fluid in her lungs. She was tired all the time.

And then, in May, she came home to find an eviction order attached to her door.

“It makes me feel the anxiety of being homeless,” she said.

Read more at Nowhere to Go

Graphics and Data Visualization

The board that oversees medical cannabis in Virginia has issued nearly 49,000 patient
registrations since possession for medicinal purposes was legalized in 2020.

Virginia's health department has been stretched thin, with its workforce shrinking while the state's population grows.

More than three-quarters of drug deaths in Virginia in 2021 are due to overdoses of fentanyl, according to the state medical examiner's office.

In some Maryland counties, more than half of households lack a home broadband internet connection, making it harder to accommodate remote learning or teleworking during the pandemic.

Despite some notable exceptions, third-party voting in Maryland is fairly uncommon.

Illustration: annotated explanation of FiveThirtyEight's election forecast