Resource Center





The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories — both print and broadcast.

These stories are searchable online or by contacting the Resource Center directly (573-882-3364 or where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Browse or search the tipsheet section of our library below. Stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center.




  • The Most Unequal Place in America

    To the IRE Award Judges: Income inequality has been the subject of countless news stories in recent years – but rarely do these stories go beyond numbers to explain to readers and viewers why the gap between rich and poor in the United States actually matters. And rarely if ever do the reporters behind those stories try to become part of a solution. CNN Digital columnist John Sutter and videographer Edythe McNamee traveled to America’s little-known epicenter of income inequality -- East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, which, according to census data, has the widest rich-poor gap in the nation -- to try to make this uber-story tangible for CNN’s readers. Their work was commissioned by CNN’s audience, which voted last summer on the five topics they consider to be the top social justice issues of our time. The vote and the stories on East Carroll Parish were part of CNN’s innovative Change the List project. The goal, as the name suggests, is to do reporting that could help bump East Carroll Parish off the bottom of the list for income inequality. It’s democratic journalism with a goal: Create real change in the world on behalf of the audience. Sutter and McNamee powerfully told the story of one woman, Delores Gilmore, who lives on the south side of Lake Providence, the body of water that neatly and cruelly divides rich from poor in her community. Gilmore, a single mom who works as an overnight prison guard, doesn’t know what life is like on the richer side of the lake, where landowners live in manicured estates with private tennis courts and docks. That story, “The most unequal place in America,” resonated with readers in a way other income inequality pieces haven’t. "I watched this video and read the article this morning sitting in my 1,400-square-foot house, on my iPad. By the end I was bawling,” one reader wrote in response to the stories. “I have been one of those that bemoaned government assistance and had that 'bootstrap' mentality. However, as your article suggests, how can that happen when there are places where there are no opportunities to be had?" In addition to commissioning this series, readers started online petitions urging politicians to address income inequality; uploaded and shared photos of lines that divide the rich from poor in their communities; and submitted iReports saying how their income makes them feel in modern America, where the middle class is increasingly hollowed out. Readers also asked how they could help non-profits in rural Louisiana. Dozens wrote personal e-mails to Sutter asking how they could help Delores Gilmore. A young woman from East Carroll Parish told Sutter she plans to start a non-profit organization to build a literal bridge across Lake Providence, because of the coverage. CNN proudly nominates John Sutter and Edythe McNamee for an IRE Award. Sincerely, Steve Goldberg, Senior Enterprise Producer, CNN Digital The most unequal place in America ‘Surviving’s about the best you can do’ How to help Lake Providence, Louisiana 10 heroes of Income Inequality, USA ‘Cross the gap’ on income inequality 7 ways to narrow the rich-poor gap 5 things the world could teach America about economic justice What is income inequality, anyway? CNN’s Change the List:

    Tags: Income inequality;

    By John Sutter



  • The Smartest Kids in the World

    America has long compared its students to top-performing kids of other nations. But how do the world’s education superpowers look through the eyes of an American high school student? Author Amanda Ripley follows three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living and learning in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through their adventures, Ripley discovers startling truths about how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries’ education results. In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ripley’s astonishing new insights reveal that top-performing countries have achieved greatness only in the past several decades; that the kids who live there are learning to think for themselves, partly through failing early and often; and that persistence, hard work, and resilience matter more to our children’s life chances than self-esteem or sports. Ripley’s investigative work seamlessly weaves narrative and research, providing in-depth analysis and gripping details that will keep you turning the pages. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Smartest Kids in the World will enliven public as well as dinner table debates over what makes for brighter and better students.

    Tags: None

    By Amanda Ripley



  • How Kids Get Caught in Chicago's Deadly Gun Trap

    Told through the perspective of a killer out on parole, this is the story of how gang members influence kids, teaching them to sell drugs and shoot guns to get money, power and respect. The story also reveals that if juveniles do get caught with guns in Chicago, they still rarely get punished. Even fewer get sent to juvenile detention. Gangbangers use that to their advantage to lure kids into violent lives of crime.

    Tags: Parole; Gangs

    By Mark Konkol


  • Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved

    Two little girls went out to play in the snow in a small town in Illinois in December 1957. One never came home. A man who called himself “Johnny” snatched her away. In an age before Amber Alerts and missing kids on milk cartons, the kidnapping and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph seized the nation. J. Edgar Hoover got involved; President Dwight D. Eisenhower followed the case. But a rigorous investigation was followed by a half-century of silence. Finally, after 55 years, an odd set of circumstances conspired to thaw this coldest of cases. These included a mother’s deathbed accusation against her own son, bulldog cops who picked apart an alibi, and the only eyewitness to the crime. She was 8 when she saw the stranger who kidnapped her friend; 61 when she identified him in a lineup. Police found that man – now 73 -- living in Seattle. He was convicted and sent to prison. In five spellbinding chapters, CNN’s series “Taken,” by Ann O’Neill, tells the story of the nation’s oldest cold case to ever go to trial. In documentary style, she describes the kidnapping, the suspect, the investigation and the trial. And then, her story takes an investigative turn: She consults legal experts who raise troubling questions about a paper-thin case tried before a judge with little, if any, experience with murder cases. This multimedia story includes a gallery of the evidence, key documents in the case, a timeline examining the alibi, vintage photographs and newspaper headlines from 1957, film noir-type portraits of the characters and a dozen short video interviews with the players in the drama – including a prison interview with the convicted man and clips from his eight-hour police interrogation. The story is told on a custom template that tastefully supports the crime genre and features animated chapter openings. A video trailer teases the story, which was also made into an hour-long documentary by HLN, CNN’s sister network. CNN is proud to nominate “Taken: The coldest case ever solved” for an IRE Award. Sincerely, Steve Goldberg, Senior Enterprise Producer, CNN Digital Taken: The coldest case ever solved

    Tags: Kidnapping; murder; Maria Ridulph

    By Ann O’Neill, Jan Winburn, Brandon Ancil, Jessica Koscielniak, Manav Tanneeru, Curt Merrill, Sean O’Key



  • The State of LGBT Rights

    To the IRE Award Judges: The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement has made incredible strides in the United States in recent years, but the progress has been uneven. CNN Digital columnist John Sutter helped compile a database to determine which states have the least LGBT-friendly laws. When Mississippi received the lowest score, Sutter traveled to the Hospitality State with videographer Brandon Ancil to document life in the state deemed most hostile to LGBT people. In a series of op-eds, Sutter showed the quiet courage LGBT people in Mississippi display as they push for inclusion in a state that, at times, would like to pretend they don't exist. He featured a sheriff’s deputy in Hattiesburg who sued his employer when he was fired for being gay, even though that’s legal in Mississippi. Sutter and Ancil compiled a powerful video of young, out people in Mississippi. Among the most memorable columns in the series was a piece on Franklin County, Mississippi, which Sutter termed “The county where no one’s gay.” A UCLA analysis of census data found that Franklin County, like others in the country, had exactly zero residents who admitted to being part of a same-sex couple. Sutter and Ancil spent several days in the county proving that figure inaccurate and telling the stories of Franklin County’s invisible LGBT residents, who have faced violence as well as unexpected and conflicted acceptance from their community. “Thank you so much for this interesting and provocative piece,” one reader wrote. “Having spent most of my life in the Northeast, in relatively progressive areas, homophobia and slurs have been the exception rather than the norm. I always knew things were different down South, but never knew exactly how social interaction worked for people who were gay, or friends of people who were gay. Your piece does an admirable job showing the presence of outright hate, disapproving acceptance, confusion, and support that all exist in the same microcosm.” In the series, Sutter persuasively argued that out people who quietly refuse to leave hostile environments like Mississippi are the true heroes of the LGBT rights movement. Their stories helped advance the national conversation at a time when most reporters were focused on the Supreme Court and Congress. CNN proudly nominates John Sutter and Brandon Ancil for an IRE Award. Sincerely, Steve Goldberg, Senior Enterprise Producer, CNN Digital The county where no one’s gay Young and out in Mississippi No one should be fired for being gay Gay people live in 50 Americas

    Tags: LGBT; Mississippi

    By John D. Sutter



  • How NJ Transit Failed Sandy's Test

    On the weekend before Sandy thundered into New Jersey, transit officials studied a map showing bright green and orange blocks. On the map, the area where most New Jersey Transit trains were being stored showed up as orange – or dry. So keeping the trains in its centrally-located Meadows Maintenance Complex and the nearby Hoboken yards seemed prudent. And it might have been a good plan. Except the numbers New Jersey Transit used to create the map were wrong. If officials had entered the right numbers, they would have predicted what actually happened: a storm surge that engulfed hundreds of rail cars, some of them brand new, costing over $120 million in damage and thrusting the system’s passengers into months of frustrating delays. But the fate of NJ Transit’s trains – over a quarter of the agency’s fleet - didn’t just hang on one set of wrong inputs. It followed years of missed warnings, failures to plan, and lack of coordination under Governor Chris Christie, who has expressed ambivalence about preparing for climate change while repeatedly warning New Jerseyans not to underestimate the dangers of severe storms.

    Tags: Hurricane Sandy; New Jersey;

    By Kate Hinds

    New York Public Radio and The Record


  • Pain Pillar Investigated by DEA

    Our attraction to the story of deaths at a clinic run by Dr. Lynn Webster was simple irony. We marveled at how a clinic run by someone who is considered -- at least among pain physicians -- the leading voice about safely prescribing opioids -- could have had so many deaths. Webster is the president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the author of the "Opioid Risk Tool," a checklist that is said to enable doctors to distinguish painkiller addicts from legitimate pain patients. Our initial off-the-record conversations indicated that the Drug Enforcement Agency was investigating a number hovering around 100 deaths. Webster acknowledged, and later denied, up to 20 deaths at the clinic over two decades. Of course, an investigation like this is fraught with complexity. There is the issue of monies that Webster receives from the pharmaceutical industry, and how that might influence his philosophy about prescribing, and the practices at his clinic. We also considered the detail that Webster often was not the person prescribing the medications to patients who eventually died. And there is the complicated nature of opioid prescribing. Despite an 11-year increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in accidental overdose deaths for this class of medications, there remains a hot debate about their utility for patients in chronic pain. We aimed to touch on at least some of these issues in our television piece; and dig a little deeper in a longer piece for CNN digital. Our focus on both platforms was on a case in which Webster was allegedly very involved -- that of Carol Ann Bosley. We also focused our efforts on unearthing more information about deaths at the clinic. The strength of our investigation lay with uncovering information that had previously been unreported -- in particular, allegations of improper involvement by Dr. Webster in the Utah medical examiner's determination about Bosley's cause of death. During a conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bosley's husband also revealed a previously unreported item about Dr. Webster allegedly luring his wife back to treatment on opioids after she had kicked her habit. CNN also spoke on-camera with Bruce Webb, who lost a loved one after care at Lifetree, along with several others off-camera. Some sources of information about practices at Lifetree were gathered from people filing lawsuits against the clinic. We also mined information from people who had posted comments online about Lifetree Clinic (in one case we tracked down, after several weeks, a person who lost her mother after treatment there, who called the clinic "Deathtree.") CNN was able to use accounts from online posters to bolster the claims of our investigation. Repeated requests by CNN to the Utah Department of Professional Licensing for information about medical malpractice alleged against either Lifetree Clinic or Dr. Webster were denied. We received a handful of cases from that agency, with heavy redaction, none of which contained serious allegations. We pressed for weeks and, after many phone calls, through a source we were able to unearth a claim. It involved a woman who died of an overdose after receiving care at Lifetree, whose prescriptions soared while she was a patient. Of course with all of this information indicating alleged wrongdoing at Lifetree, under Dr. Webster's watch, we wanted his perspective. Through a spokesperson, Dr. Webster strenuously objected -- repeatedly -- to appearing on-camera to address allegations against him. Even when the request was framed in terms of clarifying his approach to opioid prescribing more generally, leaving out any patient claims, the doctor declined. Since our investigation, both on television and online, we spurred a renewed discussion on social media about painkiller use and abuse, and the role of doctors. Off-the-record, we hear that our reporting has spurred some movement in the DEA's continuing investigation of Dr. Webster.

    Tags: Lynn Webster; Drug Enforcement Agency; Opiod

    By Jennifer Bixler



  • Rule 14 and Cops Who Lie, Testing the Public Trust Chicago reporters Mark Konkol and Quinn Ford revealed a little known provision in the Chicago Police Department's disciplinary code that has a major impact on Chicago. Known as Rule 14, the rule bars lying by officers in their official capacities and is supposed to result in firings if found guilty. Konkol and Ford, however, found most officers don't lose their jobs, fostering a code of silence in the department.

    Tags: Police; silence

    By Mark Konkol


  • Always Open

    The report on the prison Viamão - shows the lack in the prison system of Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil. Recordings made by a prison guard last year , reveal that inmates leave prison and enter the house anytime you want . Blatant still shows the armed power of the criminal - that should be confined in the cells leaving only with legal authorization to work . They boast pistols, revolvers and submachine up.

    Tags: Brazil; Rio Grande do Sul; prison

    By André Azeredo, Jefferson Pacheco, Tiago Ornaghi, Luciano Lucas, Cláudio Fernandes, Ênio Rosa, Giancarlo Barzi, Grégori Bertó, Guto Teixeira, Marcelo Cabral, Gerson Antunes, Diego Vieira

    TV Globo


  • Pakistan's Bin Laden Dossier

    Pakistan’s Bin Laden Dossier is until now the most important publicly available official document about an event that ended an era - the killing of Osama Bin Laden—and it was not made released by any government or pursuant to a FOIA request. Al Jazeera obtained it through sensitive, on the ground sourcing in Pakistan, and through its Investigative Unit, exclusively published the 336-page file on July 8, 2013. The Bin Laden files detail how a man sought for over a decade, the leader of Al Qaeda, eluded both his American pursuers and the Pakistani government itself. The leaked report revealed dozens of new details, based on previously unseen testimony of 201 witnesses, including Bin Laden's wives, Pakistani intelligence leaders, senior ministers, bureaucrats and military, intelligence and security commanders.

    Tags: Bin Laden; Pakistan; Al Qaeda

    By Clayton Swisher

    Al Jazeera America