Pamela Colloff

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

Vanilla Ice

Aug 31, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) was just another white kid from the Dallas suburbs in 1990, when his “Ice Ice Baby” became the first rap single to hit number one on Billboard’s pop singles chart. Back in his heyday, the peroxided crossover sensation could boast of multi-platinum record sales…

Bobby Frank Cherry

Aug 31, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

A year ago last April, I explored the curious past of an East Texas man named Bobby Frank Cherry in a story titled “The Sins of the Father.” Though the FBI had long suspected that Cherry had played a role in the infamous 1963 bombing of a church in…

Queen of the Rodeo

Jul 31, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

For teenage girls in the Hill Country town of Llano, life can be short on glamour and excitement—except at the annual rodeo, when one of them gets a rhinestone tiara and a rare, thrilling moment of glory.

Saddle Up

Jul 31, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

Senior editor Pamela Colloff, who trailed five young women as they vied for the title of rodeo queen, talks about small towns and big dreams.

The Battle for the Border

Apr 1, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

In Maverick County illegal immigrants are crossing in record numbers, creating a war zone. Mexicans have been shot and killed, houses robbed, cattle stolen. Some ranchers are fleeing. But others, like Dob Cunningham, have decided to stay and fight.

On the Border

Apr 1, 2001 By Pamela Colloff

After spending a week at the busiest U.S. Border Patrol station in Texas, associate editor Pamela Colloff learned that there is more to an agent's job than helicopters and surveillance cameras.

They Haven’t Got a Prayer

Nov 1, 2000 By Pamela Colloff

In the Gulf Coast town of Santa Fe, high school football games had always kicked off with a prayer, but in June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the practice violated the separation of church and state. Now the issue—which has turned neighbor against neighbor and provoked some decidedly un-Christian behavior— has grown from a local controversy into a national one.

Suddenly Susan

Jul 31, 2000 By Pamela Colloff

Susan Dell, the wife of Michael and the owner of a pricey couture salon that bears her name, is the perfect symbol of the new, mega-monied Austin. So what if its thunderstruck natives don't know quite what to make of her? Meet the Capital City's designing woman.

The Sins of the Father

Apr 1, 2000 By Pamela Colloff

For Tom Cherry, the precise place where loyalty to his dad ends and a larger obligation to society begins lies deep in the woods of East Texas, at the intersection of history and conscience, where the truth about a church bombing during the struggle for civil rights in the South may only now be coming to light.

The Outsiders

Nov 1, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

Amarillo is a city where conformity counts, so the death of a punk at the hands of a football player had more than a little symbolic significance there. So did the jury’s decision to keep the killer from going to jail.

The Blood of the Tigua

Jul 31, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

Officially, the issue tearing apart the West Texas' largest native American tribe is one of lineage. Who is and is not a member. But the real dispute is over money—earned in unimaginable amounts at the casino on their reservation and coveted by rival factions willing to risk everything.

Lynch Mob

May 31, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

Like the coffee and pie in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, the Arlington-based fanzine Wrapped in Plastic is damn fine.

Blood and Money

Mar 1, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

On the strength of a simple if indelicate question—“Who’s the Father?”—Houston’s Caroline Caskey has made a big splash in biotech.

Feature
The Getaway

Feb 1, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

There’s something romantic about a jailbreak, even when the escapee is a cold-blooded killer on death row. That’s why our feelings about Martin Gurule were more than a little complicated.

Teenage Wasteland

Jan 1, 1999 By Pamela Colloff

With its optimistically broad streets and oversized cantilevered homes, Plano is the suburban ideal taken to its extreme, and its exaggerated scale often gives rise to exaggerated problems. Heroin addiction is only the latest.

A Few Bad Boys

Jan 1, 1998 By Pamela Colloff

The slashing of a cadet’s throat at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen is only the latest incident of violence at a venerable institution under not-so-friendly fire.

The Wrong Man

Dec 1, 1997 By Pamela Colloff

George W. Bush pardoned convicted rapist Kevin Byrd after DNA evidence proved he was the wrong man. How did he get sent to prison in the first place?

Close Encounters of the Lone Star Kind

Dec 31, 1969 By Pamela Colloff

In 1973, when Palacios Mayor W. C. Jackson invited extraterrestrials to visit Texas (“No one has ever made those fellas welcome,” he told reporters), his hospitality came almost a century too late. Long before anyone had heard of Roswell, flying saucers were first spotted in Texas in 1878, according…