As project editor on a two-month long assignment with the Center for Investigative Reporting, CCLP senior fellow Narda Zacchino oversaw reporter Shoshana Walter’s and others’ six part series “Hired Guns.” The team reported on armed security guards across the country who endanger public safety through a haphazard system of lax laws, minimal oversight and almost no accountability. The project includes a graphic novel and an interactive map.

Zacchino and Walter are hoping that the series will raise awareness about this issue and change policies across the country. CNN teamed up with CIR and featured two segments on the story, which will be sent to hundreds of key legislators in policy making positions.

“There is a bill in Congress now, by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, that would make FBI background checks available to security companies that want them,” said Zacchino. “Right now that’s not the case. We hope our series will enlighten people about the extent of the problem in the security industry and will get that bill passed. Certainly more needs to be done.”

Zacchino has also written a new book about California, which she has been working on for several years. The book will finally be published this year by Thomas Dunn Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

The untitled book, now in the final editing stages, demonstrates that “government” and “regulation” are not dirty words, and that “freedom from environmental and workplace regulation and from taxes to benefit the wealthy class is not conducive to progress as a nation, or democracy for that matter.”

The book’s thesis stems from the “debate over the neoliberal model of Texas and Kansas, which endorses privatization, deregulation, reductions in government spending, eschewing subsidies, having minimal government ‘interference’ in business and a tax system that favors the wealthy, versus the pragmatic liberal model of Jerry Brown’s California: raising taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 to help fund education, shifting money toward the schools of poor children, making alliances with other states and countries to counter climate change, rejecting military solutions to the problems posed by illegal immigration, raising the minimum wage and strengthening workers’ rights.”

Zacchino served as a top editor at the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. She has co-authored three books and co-founded Time Capsule Press, whose inaugural book, The LA Lakers: 50 Amazing Years in the City of Angels, was published in October 2009. She is an editorial and business consultant at the daily news website Truthdig. As a senior fellow, Zacchino works on programs exploring the role of media in democracy with a focus on state government financial crises.