Tags : Investigations

Announcing the 2013 IRE Awards

The winners of the 2013 IRE Awards provided unprecedented insight into the ways in which the government deploys technology in surveillance programs with a shockingly wide net. They used deep sourcing to overcome government roadblocks and uncover atrocities and corruption. They fought and won precedent-setting victories in open records battles to shine light on increasingly opaque government agencies. They exposed threats to children, uncovered financial malfeasance, highlighted government waste and tracked hidden assets across the globe.

Ziva Branstetter, chair of IRE's Contest Committee, said the winners show that powerful investigative journalism is being published, aired and posted at all ...

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Don't miss at IRE 2013: Broadcast investigations

The 2013 IRE Conference has a series of panels devoted to broadcast investigations. Join us in San Antonio from June 20-23 and learn from veteran broadcasters about how to craft investigations. The deadline to get the early registration rate for the conference is tomorrow at 7 p.m. CT. Interested in broadcast sessions? Here's a sample of what IRE 2013 has to offer:

  • Surveillance - Learning from the pros
    What can private investigators teach investigative reporters about legal, ethical and effective surveillance techniques? What are the similarities and differences in surveillance by a private investigator and an investigative reporter? Bring ...
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The one-query story: quick hits for your newsroom

Not all data reporting needs to be a long-term project. Quick-hit queries are helpful for feeding the beast with substance, and they’re a great way for reporters new to computer-assisted reporting get used to the process.

The best advice, regardless of beat, is to develop what IRE Training Director Megan Luther calls an “arsenal.” This is a set of your go-to databases that you are likely to call on most often. Public employee compensation, crime reports, jail admissions, felony convictions, accidents, calls for service from local emergency services and voter rolls are all examples of databases that can serve ...

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Seven IRE members honored with Polk awards

Seven IRE members were among winners of the 64th annual George Polk Awards in Journalism, announced today by Long Island University. The annual George Polk Awards in Journalism were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS Correspondent murdered in 1948 while reporting on the civil war in Greece. The following IRE members were honored in this year’s awards:

  • David Corn of Mother Jones won the George Polk Award for Political Reporting for his work securing and publishing video of  the “47 percent” remarks from 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. See the full story ...
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Behind the Story: Post-Dispatch mapping finds 'hot spots' of pedestrian railroad deaths

Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In December, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released Death on the Rails, a special report on the surprising number of pedestrian deaths that have occurred on railways.  Reporter Todd Frankel explains how he cross-referenced databases and resources to build his own map of the accidents, which he used to further investigate ”hot spots” of pedestrian death and injury.

You began investigating for the series after a pedestrian fatality in June.  What inspired you to look into these rail-related accidents?  Did you expect to discover so many when ...

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In Pennsylvania, culture of secrecy, Right to Know Law remain work in progress

Pennsylvania’s records laws were for many years among the most restrictive in the country, and though the letter of the law has since improved drastically, freedom of information advocates say the spirit of the law has lagged.

Pennsylvania overhaul of its Right to Know Law four years ago was a major victory for government transparency, journalist Patrick Kerkstra recalls in a recent article for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pennsylvania’s old public records law, enacted in 1957, put the burden on the requester to prove that the desired document was indeed public. The law also created a narrow definition of ...

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Behind the Story: An information gap in child abuse cases

There were signs of problems before 15-year-old Jeanette Maples died of starvation and abuse in Oregon in December 2009.  Although child services had been involved in the case, residents were shocked to find that Maples death had not been prevented.  Oregonian reporter Michelle Cole wanted to know what, if anything, could have been done to change the circumstances.  Through her investigation of the case, she uncovered problems with child welfare services that extend outside of Oregon and into national child welfare regulations.  The deficient child abuse monitoring system continues to affect cases across the United States.  

In Maples case, child ...

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Behind The Story: Investigating credit report errors


Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch

When Jill Riepenhoff and Mike Wagner began researching credit report errors in 2010, virtually everyone they spoke with knew someone who had been affected.  Although the industry lacks an official outlet for consumers to dispute credit claims, the reporters’ nationwide FOIA requests returned nearly 28,000 files from the Federal Trade Commission and an additional 2,000 files from attorneys general in 24 states.  In 2012, they began using the data to create their “Credit Scars” series for The Columbus Dispatch.

After receiving the initial 28,000 complaint files from the FTC, Riepenhoff and Wagner ...

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Behind the Story: The San Diego port, altered public records and interactive presentation

San Diego’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is home to a rare deep water port that’s valuable to the maritime industry, but for the last ten years, developers have argued that the area should be transformed into an entertainment district.  When two businessmen responsible for running the U-T San Diego began promoting the stadium, Brooke Williams of iNewSource.org along with reporters from KPBS San Diego decided to investigate.  Their series “Port Authority:  What’s a Port Worth, Anyway?” compiles reporting, documents, interactive pieces, and video to show the plans and potential effects the changes would have on San ...

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Behind the Story: Investigating a building collapse, creating an interactive timeline

A normal day on the local government beat became two months of investigating for Lansing State Journal reporter Lindsay VanHulle.  After a portion of the residential St. Anne Lofts building collapsed in East Lansing, Mich., VanHulle discovered problems in the city’s building code and development programs.  Prior to the building’s collapse, these problems allowed unpermitted construction to continue for months.  

VanHulle’s findings were released in an interactive timeline for the Lansing State Journal in September.  Shortly before the article was published, East Lansing’s code enforcement and planning departments were restructured in an effort to improve communication ...

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