the kdmcinfo weblog

The Mystery of Huguette Clark and Her Millions

Bill Dedman (Jan '08) published a second installment of his investigative report on the reclusive, 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark and what's to come of her vast fortune.

Dedman, an investigative reporter for msnbc.com, first reported the story of Huguett, the mysterious heiress who has sequestered herself from the world for the past 50 years, as an annotated 47 slide photo narrative titled, The Clarks: an American story of wealth, scandal and mystery. Using archival photos and cutlines, Dedman tells a compelling story of how Huguette's father amassed his wealth in the late 1800s, and her vanishment from public view in the mid-1900s.

His latest report includes a two-part written story that examines the dubious backgrounds and questionable liquidation of some of Huguette's assets by the only two people who have contact with the aged heiress, her accountant and her attorney. The update includes additional photos, an audio clip, a video, downloadable copies of probate court records, notes on his reporting and a list of the resources he drew his information from. The story was picked up and aired on NBC's TODAY show last week.

In an interview with Poynter Online, Dedman talked about his newsroom's willingness to experiment with presenting the first story as a photo slide show, rather than a 2,500-word text story. He said they wanted to see whether in-depth reporting could be presented in a way that would reach more people. The photo story received 78 million page views, more than any other story on msnbc.com, plus 500 emails from viewers.