Pamela Colloff

Author's Profile Photo

Pamela Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly until 2017. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker and has been anthologized in Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Crime Reporting, Best American Non-Required Reading, and Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Colloff is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. She was nominated in 2001 for her article on school prayer, and then again in 2011 for her two-part series, “Innocence Lost” and “Innocence Found,” about wrongly convicted death row inmate Anthony Graves. One month after the publication of “Innocence Lost,” the Burleson County district attorney’s office dropped all charges against Graves and released him from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial. Colloff’s article—an exhaustive examination of Graves’s case—was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after eighteen years behind bars.

In 2013 she was nominated twice more, for “Hannah and Andrew” and “The Innocent Man,” a two-part series about Michael Morton, a man who spent 25 years wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his wife, Christine. The latter earned a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. 

In 2014 the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

In 2015, Colloff was nominated for her fifth National Magazine Award, for “The Witness,” a profile of a former prison employee who, over the course of her career, had watched the execution of 278 death row inmates.

Her story “96 Minutes” served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, Tower, which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film. Colloff also served as one of the film’s executive producers. She further explored the subject of the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting in her story “The Reckoning,” which was a finalist for a 2017 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.

Colloff holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brown University and was raised in New York City. She lives in Austin with her husband and their two children.

Articles by Pamela Colloff

Warning Shot

Oct 31, 2009 By Pamela Colloff

Texas parents have the choice to opt their children out of school vaccination requirements based on “reasons of conscience.” But what about the other kids around them?

Romance on the River

May 31, 2009 By Pamela Colloff

Location: San Antonio What You’ll Need: Significant Other My husband and I have an annual tradition of going to San Antonio for the weekend—away from errands, our toddler, and everything else that keeps us too busy when we’re at home. It’s easy and inexpensive enough that even…

Crossing the Line

Jan 1, 2009 By Pamela Colloff

The facts of this case are quite simple. Two Border Patrol agents shot at an unarmed man as he was running away from them. And then, they covered it up.

Web Exclusive
Auto Pilot

Dec 1, 2008 By Pamela Colloff

With the Big Three teetering on the brink, it’s worth noting that the Toyota plant in San Antonio is still motoring. Oh, what a feeling!

Out of Sight

Jul 31, 2008 By Pamela Colloff

For the 140 full-time, residential students lucky enough to be enrolled there, the Texas School for the Blind is “heaven,” “home,” and “the first place I had friends.”

David Koresh
The Fire That Time

Mar 31, 2008 By Pamela Colloff

On April 19, 1993, the world watched as the Branch Davidian compound, outside Waco, burned to the ground after a 51-day standoff. Fifteen years later, witnesses and participants—from federal agents to loyal followers of David Koresh—remember what they saw during the deadliest law enforcement operation in U.S. history.

Law of the Land

Mar 31, 2007 By Pamela Colloff

Nearly two centuries after their forebears protected colonists from Indian raids, the Texas Rangers are alive and well and wrestling with the realities of the twenty-first century. In their own words, the iconic crime fighters explain how their world has changed—and what it takes to battle the latest generation of bad guys.

High Kicks at Halftime

Aug 31, 2006 By Pamela Colloff

Could football be played without drill teams? Well, sure—but then how could you keep kids in their seats instead of under the bleachers, drinking beer? That was the informing idea back in 1939, when Kilgore College first conceived its Rangerettes. Their instructor, Miss Gussie Nell Davis, pioneered the crisp choreography…

Feature
A Kiss Before Dying

Feb 1, 2006 By Pamela Colloff

Forty-five years after Betty Williams was shot to death by the handsome football player she had been secretly seeing, her murder haunts her Odessa high school—literally.

Ethan Hawke

Dec 1, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

Larry McMurtry writes about how if you’re forced to leave Texas before you’re ready, before the state lets you go, you always dream of it.

Flipping Out

Sep 30, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

The letter-sweater-wearing, pom-pom-shaking, pep-rally-leading girl next door has been a beloved Texas icon for generations. So why do so many people today— lawmakers and lawyers, preachers and feminists—think cheerleading is the root, root, root of all evil?

She’s Here. She’s Queer. She’s Fired.

Jun 30, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

When the girls’ basketball coach at the only high school in Bloomburg moved in with another woman, it cost her a job and at least a few friends. But the tumult over a lesbian relationship in this tiny East Texas town wasn’t the end of the story.

Get Out the Vo

May 31, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

The demographics of one legislative district in Houston have changed so dramatically that they allowed a novice Democrat to unseat an eleven-term Republican powerhouse. But the real story is what could happen elsewhere in the not-so-distant future.

Sunk

Jan 1, 2005 By Pamela Colloff

How the Texans who organized the Swift Boat Vets capsized John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Cutting Deep

Dec 1, 2004 By Pamela Colloff

A year after state legislators kicked tens of thousands of children off the taxpayer-funded health insurance rolls, our biggest public-policy problem has reached crisis proportions. And the bleeding shows no signs of letting up.

Reversal of Fortune

Aug 31, 2004 By Pamela Colloff

Eight years ago, 42 people in the West Texas town of Roby—7 percent of the population—pooled their money, bought lottery tickets, and won $46 million. And that's when their luck ran out.

Letters Home

Jun 30, 2004 By Pamela Colloff

Seventy-five Texans—sons and daughters, brothers and sisters—have died in Iraq since last March. Here are some of their final words.

Life and Meth

May 31, 2004 By Pamela Colloff

Around the Piney Woods, most people will tell you that they know someone who’s addicted to homemade speed. Drug recovery centers are overwhelmed; court dockets are backed up; jails are filled. There’s no end in sight.

Jasper

Dec 1, 2003 By Pamela Colloff

The town's name will forever be synonymous with one of the worst hate crimes in American history. But the story doesn't end there.

Crosses to Bear

Jun 30, 2003 By Pamela Colloff

Every day the new politics of abortion play out at clinics like the one in Bryan-College Station, where emotions run high and Roe v. Wade is almost beside the point.

The Whistle-Blower

Apr 1, 2003 By Pamela Colloff

What has Sherron Watkins' life been like since she exposed the financial shenanigans of her colleagues at Enron? Well, she may be one of Time's "Persons of the Year," but she's not necessarily one of Houston's.

Queen for a Day

Feb 1, 2003 By Pamela Colloff

At this year's Miss Texas Teen USA pageant, girls from big cities and small towns stuffed their bras, slicked Vaseline across their teeth, and prayed that their thighs were toned enough. Anything for the crown.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Nov 1, 2002 By Pamela Colloff

Once upon a time, the Central Texas town of Crawford was like Mayberry: Everyone knew everyone, no one talked politics, and the air was ripe with the aroma of hogs. Then the leader of the free world bought a little place west of the Middle Bosque River, and nothing was ever the same again.

Mexico City

Sep 30, 2002 By Pamela Colloff

MEXICO’S CAPITAL IS NOT ONLY bordered by volcanoes, rattled from time to time by earthquakes, and inhabited by nearly twenty million people. The megalopolis is also sinking so rapidly into the ground that its church steeples lean at odd angles along the skyline. “Embrace the insanity of the place,” a…

A Bend in the River

Jun 30, 2002 By Pamela Colloff

In 1996 the body of a cheerleader from a small town in Oklahoma was found on the Texas side of the Red River. She had been raped and shot. The brutal crime destroyed several families and the illusions of an isolated slice of the world.

Grand Royal

Jan 1, 2002 By Pamela Colloff

Director Wes Anderson's new movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, deals with death, despair, and other dark subjects. And—what do you know—it's hysterically funny.