James Neff

James Neff is a U.S. nonfiction author and investigative journalist. His most recent work, Vendetta: Bobby Kennedy versus Jimmy Hoffa, was published by Little, Brown and Company in July 2015.[1]

James Neff
Jim neff at bookstore
Occupation Deputy managing editor, Philadelphia Media Network
Nationality American
Genre Nonfiction

Early life and education

Neff is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has a master's degree in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin.


Neff was a reporter at the Austin American-Statesman and at the Cleveland Plain Dealer[2] in his hometown. He was a local columnist at the Plain Dealer from 1981 to 1986.[3] Some of his columns were collected into City Beat: Stories from the Heart of Cleveland.

His 1989 biography of Teamsters president Jackie Presser, Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the FBI, was adapted into the HBO movie Teamster Boss.[4]

In 1995, Neff's third book, Unfinished Murder: The Capture of a Serial Rapist was published. This account of the investigation, capture, and conviction of serial rapist Ronnie Shelton, known in Cleveland as the West Side Rapist, was praised for its insight into the damage inflicted upon the victims of this violent man.[5]

Neff was the Willard M. Kiplinger Chair in Public Affairs Reporting in The Ohio State University School of Journalism and Communication from 1994 to 1999.[6] In this position, he supervised the Kiplinger Mid-Career Program in Public Affairs Reporting, an interdisciplinary year-long program awarding master's degrees to journalists who break from their careers for an intensive study of public affairs reporting.[7]

Neff spent several years re-investigating the Dr. Sam Sheppard murder case for his next book, The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case. He located police reports and grand jury transcripts from the 1950s that were previously unavailable. He concluded that Dr. Sam Sheppard did not kill his wife Marilyn in July 1954.[8]

When, in 2000, Sam Reese Sheppard, son of the late Dr. Sheppard, sued the state of Ohio claiming his father was wrongfully imprisoned for Marilyn Sheppard's murder, county prosecutors in Cleveland, Ohio, subpoenaed all of Neff's research for his book in an attempt to shore up its case that Sheppard was guilty.[9] The subpoena was successfully defeated with the help of First Amendment lawyer David Marburger.[10]

Neff was interviewed on the cable program, "A Crime to Remember: The Wrong Man," a retrospective look at the Marilyn Sheppard murder which aired in December, 2015, on the Investigations Discovery Channel.[11]

Neff has been a board member[12] and past president[13] of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. (IRE) from 1991 through 2002. Through IRE, he has published several "tip sheets" for investigative reporters on finding information in a hurry, backgrounding, and finding and using archival documents.[14]

In 2001, Neff became the investigations editor at the Seattle Times.[15] In March, 2016, Neff was named assistant managing editor of investigations.[16]

On June 1, 2016, Neff became the assistant managing editor for Investigations/Projects for the Philadelphia Media Network. In 2017, Neff was named deputy managing editor.

In 2017, Neff served as chair of the jurors selecting the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting.[17]

Personal life

James Neff lives in the Philadelphia area with his family.


City Beat: Stories from the Heart of Cleveland (Zubal, 1984) ISBN 9780939738557

Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the FBI (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989) ISBN 978-0871133441

Unfinished Murder: The Capture of a Serial Rapist (Pocket Books, 1995) ISBN 978-0743460552

The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case (Random House, 2001) ISBN 978-0679457190

Vendetta: Bobby Kennedy versus Jimmy Hoffa (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) ISBN 978-0316738347


Mobbed Up, published by Atlantic Monthly Press (1989), won the Thomas Renner award from Investigative Reporters & Editors for the year’s best reporting on organized crime.[18]

In 1996, Neff was an Edgar Award nominee for Best Fact Crime Book for Unfinished Murder.[19]

Neff was lead writer for the 18-part series, “The Terrorist Within,"[20] which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2003.[21]


  1. ^ Neff, James. "Vendetta". Hatchette Book Group. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  2. ^ Maier, Thomas (1994). Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power & Glory of America's Richest Media Empire & the Secretive Man Behind It. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 121. ISBN 1-55566-191-2.
  3. ^ "Books of the Times". New York Times. November 30, 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story". IMDB. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Kirkus Review: Unfinished Murder". KIRKUS Reviews. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  6. ^ "New Kiplinger Professor Named". The Ohio State University News Room. August 5, 1999. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Kiplinger Programs at The Ohio State University". Kiplinger Programs at The Ohio State University.
  8. ^ "The Wrong Man". New York Times. November 11, 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  9. ^ Johnston, David Cay (January 10, 2000). "MediaTalk: Writer Fights Subpoena in Sheppard Case". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  10. ^ Marburger, David. "BakerHostetler". BakerHostetler. Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  11. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5024620/
  12. ^ "IRE Past Board Members". IRE. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Backgrounding on deadline". IRE. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  14. ^ "IRE: Resource Center: Tip Sheets". Investigative Reporters and Editors.
  15. ^ Neff, James (July 3, 2015). "A Big Crook, Kennedys and More". Seattle Times. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  16. ^ http://www.seattletimes.com/newsroom-staff/#the-editors
  17. ^ http://www.pulitzer.org/winners/eric-eyre
  18. ^ "IRE: Thomas Renner Award". Publishers Editors Managing Editors. March 25, 1991. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  19. ^ "The Edgar Awards: Best Fact Crime Edgar Award". The Edgar Awards. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  20. ^ "The Terrorist Within". Seattle Times. July 22, 2002. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  21. ^ "The Pulitzer Prize: Investigative Reporting". The Pulitzer Prize: Investigative Reporting. Retrieved 31 July 2015.

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