IRE News

Behind the Story: How Chicago Magazine exposed the truth about the city’s crime rates

Chicago Magazine | June 2014

A story that helped change the way Chicagoans digest crime stats started with suspicion.

Immersed in a different crime-related piece, Chicago Magazine Features Editor David Bernstein and Contributing Writer Noah Isackson noticed something amiss with the statistics. When their trusted police sources voiced skepticism, the early trappings of an idea took hold.

In the spring of 2013, fresh off a year of 507 murders in Chicago, the most of any U.S. city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy started celebrating what the stats showed was a drastic turnaround in the amount of crime ...

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IRE remembers CNN photojournalist Sarmad Qaseera

2012 IRE Awards video

IRE is saddened to hear about the passing of Sarmad Qaseera, a photojournalist to whom we’d awarded an IRE Medal for his 2012 work in Benghazi. The 42-year-old was a longtime member of CNN’s Baghdad bureau.

Qaseera was hired by CNN to cover the war in his home country of Iraq in 2003, and in doing so risked his life, according to CNN’s story on his passing. He remained in Iraq until a “very specific death threat” forced him out in 2006. He fled to the U.S. to continue his work for ...

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NICAR Data Library to lower prices, offer free databases

The NICAR Database Library will be implementing some changes in the coming months: The first of these is a reduction in what we charge IRE members for most of our databases. Additionally, a handful of databases will be free to IRE members​. 

While the amount of work we put into each database remains the same, we also want to embolden the growing spirit of accessibility that exists promisingly in some government agencies, in places like Github where reporters share data and code, and on NICAR-L where all sorts of valuable information is shared on a daily basis. Our ultimate goal ...

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Behind the Story: How Kent State tracked student athletes missing class

By Karl Idsvoog, Kent State University

How do you get into college if you can only read at a grade-school level? Last January, CNN’s Sara Ganim answered that question in a powerful piece of reporting. In a few short sentences Sara personalized the reality of college athletics at the University of North Carolina as she told the story of learning specialist Mary Willingham. Sara writes: 

"Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork. He couldn ...

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Mark your calendar for the IRE Chicago Meetup next month

The IRE Chicago Meetup crew is partnering with the Chicago Headline Club for its next happy hour. The Chicago Headline Club holds Burger Nights every month, and the next one is Sept. 12 at The Billy Goat (430 N. Michigan Ave). So, bring a colleague to introduce to the Investigative Reporters and Editors community and come down for some burgers, investigative reporting and meeting other reporters. 

Please join the Chicago IRE Meetup group if you haven’t already. No need to RSVP beyond the meetup website.

Do police have to release the name of the officer involved in the Ferguson, Mo. shooting?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Ferguson, Missouri police department’s decision not to release the name of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown. To get some legal answers, we turned to professor Sandy Davidson, who teaches communications law at the Missouri School of Journalism. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • While an incident report is considered an open record under Missouri law, that document must legally include: The date, time, specific location, name of the victim and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or ...
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Behind the Story: High-stakes testing in Norwegian schools subject to corruption

By Shazia Sarwar

A series of investigative reports by Verdens Gang (VG) in 2013 exposed that principals at all primary and secondary schools in Oslo, Norway’s capital, were given personal incentives and salary benefits in secret working contracts and on the basis of student results on national tests.

The investigation found a significant correlation between the number of students exempt from tests and the average scores. An associate professor at the University of Oslo reviewed the data and found that the more students exempt, the better a school’s score. Minority students and children with other special needs are ...

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Improve your watchdog skills for just $10 this summer

It’s the best deal you can get in the nation’s capital. For $10, you can learn investigative techniques from some of the best journalists in the country. Yes, $10.

IRE’s Watchdog Workshop will be held in Washington, D.C. on August 13. The workshop will take place at the AAJA annual conference, but it’s open to all journalists and students. Non-AAJA members are welcome to attend and you don’t have register for the full conference.

Check out our full line-up here: http://www.ire.org/events-and-training/event/1513/

Petition offers journalists a chance to support Risen

Last month, more than 1,600 IRE members gathered in San Francisco for training and to discuss the biggest issues facing our craft. Chief among them was the threat of government actions against investigative journalists and their sources, as underscored by Lowell Bergman's keynote speech, a panel on whistleblowers including Daniel Ellsberg and a showcase panel on surveillance.

Following the conference, we got a lot of inquiries from members about what they could do, specifically about New York Times reporter James Risen, who was the focus of much of Bergman's speech. The federal government is trying to force ...

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Behind the Story: How KATC exposed problems with early animal euthanasia in Louisiana

Video by KATC-Lafayette

You don’t need to work in a large newsroom to pull off an investigative story with impact. Earlier this year KATC-Lafayette’s Tina Macias and Allison Bourne-Vanneck revealed that in 2013 a Louisiana animal shelter euthanized a quarter of the dogs that passed through its doors in less than four days – the hold time stipulated by the parish’s animal control ordinance.

Macias, an investigative producer, used public records requests to track down documents on intakes and euthanasia drugs. When the shelter tried to charge the station thousands of dollars, Macias looked up the law and ...

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