KHRISTOPHER J. BROOKS was born in Detroit to a lower middle-class family on the city’s westside.
He grew up watching Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, and Bill Laimbeer dominate the NBA. The team inspired him to be the starting point guard one day, but that never happened. Instead, a Canadian fortune teller told Brooks’ mother that her son would one day become a journalist. Brooks fulfilled the prophecy. He began writing sports and news stories for his high school newspaper, the Romulus Talon. After graduation, Brooks enrolled in Central Michigan University and studied News/Editorial Journalism.
At CMU, Brooks wrote for the student newspaper, Central Michigan Life. He covered Greek life, residence halls, breaking news as well as the student government association. He was the first student to win CM Life’s Most Dedicated Reporter award two years in a row (2003-04 and 2004-05). As an undergraduate, Brooks completed four summer internships, including a business reporting internship at the Lansing State Journal. In the spring 2006, Brooks was named a Chips Quinn Scholar, which landed him a news reporting internship at The Associated Press’ bureau in Kentucky.
Brooks took his first full-time reporting job in southwest Virginia at the Bristol Herald Courier, where he covered business and education. He gained statewide notoriety after reporting that school officials in Bristol, Virginia sent home a controversial No Child Left Behind letter attached to students’ report cards. The series of stories earned him second place in education reporting from the Virginia Press Association in 2007.
After a short stint in Virginia, Brooks moved to Nebraska and joined the Omaha World-Herald. Brooks covered higher education and led the World-Herald’s coverage in the University of Nebraska’s plans to convert former Nebraska State Fairgrounds into a public/private research park.
Brooks left reporting for two years to pursue a graduate degree in narrative nonfiction at New York University. At NYU, he learned how to turn sources into characters and quotes into dialogue under the tutelage of some of New York City’s greatest storytellers.
He returned to journalism as an education reporter at The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla. In 2014, Brooks was part of a five-person investigative reporting team in Jacksonville that forced the Florida Department of Education to release secret teacher evaluation scores.
In 2015, after covering education for 8 years, Brooks became the innovation and entrepreneurship reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York. Brooks was the first and only USA Today Network reporter covering innovation. His beat included startups, venture capitalism, business incubators, inventions, patents and intellectual property. In 2016, he won 3rd place in the best business writing category from the New York State Associated Press Awards.
In between all those stops, Brooks picked up a love for cooking seafood, indoor herb gardening, teaching and traveling. He also managed to adopt two Russian Blue cats named Crank and Staravia and marry his middle school crush, Deprina in 2017.
Today Brooks is based on Long Island and covers local government for Newsday. His freelance reporting has appeared in NYTimes.com, The Huffington Post, POLITICO New York, Patch.com and the Associated Press. He spends his free time advancing the goals of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, which means he has very little time for basketball. And even though Brooks will never become a professional player, that doesn’t keep him from cheering for his favorite teams – the Los Angeles Clippers and, of course, the Detroit Pistons.