May 10, 2022 – CBS News and Stations today announced the hiring of the first four investigative journalists who will be based at its local news innovation lab, the recently established home in Dallas-Fort Worth for a curated team of news professionals who are empowered to experiment with next-generation storytelling, such as data journalism, and test new products, workflows and production models for the future.

The initial round of key hires includes Stephen Stock, who has been named national investigative correspondent; Nicole Vap, who has been appointed executive producer of content development; Chris Hacker, who will join the lab as an investigative data journalist; and Aparna Zalani, who has been named an investigative producer. The announcements were made by Adrienne Roark, president of CBS Stations, and Chad Cross, vice president of content development, CBS Stations, to whom Stock, Vap, Hacker and Zalani will report.

“We are excited to assemble a team with such passion, experience and dedication to solutions-oriented reporting that effects change and drives impact,” Roark said. “Stephen, Nicole, Chris and Aparna will be given the time and resources to look beyond the short-term news agenda. They will dig deeper to bring to light stories that haven’t been told, and to provide a voice to members of the communities we serve who are often overlooked. As members of Chad’s team, they will leverage data and technology to present next-gen storytelling for multiplatform distribution across all of our markets and collaborate with our colleagues at CBS News on stories of national interest.”

“We are pleased to establish the foundation of our innovation lab by bringing on board these four investigators who possess track records of exceptional reporting that enlightens and improves local communities,” Cross said. “We look forward to having Stephen and Nicole draw on their many years of experience, and we are excited to promote from inside our stations Chris and Aparna as team members who will help us find new ways to unearth stories.”

Stock will serve in a dual role at the innovation lab. He will provide in-depth reporting on critical issues impacting the communities served by CBS News and Stations and also offer mentoring and support to his fellow investigative journalists across the CBS Stations group.

This new role serves as a homecoming for Stock, who earlier in his career was as an investigative reporter at WFOR-TV, the CBS-owned station in Miami. Previously, during his 15 years reporting in Orlando, Stock and his team at WESH-TV received a Peabody Award in 2003 for exposing home construction failures in Central Florida. He was also part of the team recognized with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award for covering the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Most recently, Stock has been the senior investigative reporter at KNTV-TV in the San Francisco Bay Area during the last 10 years. His accomplishments there include receiving a National SPJ Sigma Delta Chi award for investigating the causes of Asiana Flight 214’s crash in San Francisco.

As an active member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, he teaches at IRE and NICAR conferences each year. He has also taught investigative journalism at the Poynter Institute, served as an adjunct instructor at UNC Chapel Hill and as a guest lecturer at Stanford University, the University of Florida, Auburn University, the University of Miami and the University of California-Berkeley.

“The leaders of CBS News and Stations possess a vision and energy to build something groundbreaking. I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to return to CBS and be part of a team that shines a light into the darkness on a national scale,” Stock said.

As executive producer of content development, Vap will be responsible for managing premium content created by the innovation lab’s investigative team as well as journalists in its consumer, environmental and community impact units. She will also facilitate collaborations between the lab and journalists across the CBS News and Stations organization.

Vap is joining the local news innovation lab after having been a pillar in the investigative journalism community for more than two decades at KUSA-TV in Denver. Vap has served for six years on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors, an organization that honored her and her team for a series of stories exposing medical billing companies taking consumers’ homes for outstanding bills. In addition, Vap has received two Edward R. Murrow awards. And she and her KUSA colleagues received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award for uncovering an elaborate rental scheme designed to defraud people whose homes were in foreclosure.

“Working with the incredible journalists across CBS News and Stations means we have a real opportunity to make a huge difference, showing how much we all have in common, and how much stronger we can be through a deeper understanding of the issues that affect all of us everywhere,” Vap said. “I am looking forward to helping this team lead that conversation, and showing the impact of empowered, creative local journalists across the country.”

Hacker will be joining the lab after having been a member of the investigative team at WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station in Chicago. His achievements there include winning a Watchdog award from the Chicago Headline Club.

Zalani will be transitioning into her new role after spending the past eight years at the lab’s home base at KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, where she produced investigations and special projects for the station. She previously worked for NBC News/MSNBC for more than 15 years.

CBS News and Stations will announce additional team members this summer, as the innovation lab continues its search for experienced journalists in fields such as consumer and environmental reporting, as well as experts in community, culture and race relations reporting.


Press Contact:

Mike Nelson