Resource Center

Stories

 

 

 

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 rescntr@ire.org) 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.

 

 

 



Search results for "information" ...

  • Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation

    Investigative reporting by John Dougherty in Phoenix New Times demonstrated that multiple errors by the state of Arizona and the city of Prescott contributed to the deaths of 19 wild-lands firefighters in last summer's Yarnell Hill blaze. The revelations published in the Yarnell Hill fire articles came from information obtained through public-records requests and from well-placed sources. The original story discovered that a multitude of mistakes were made by state and local officials in fighting the fire, errors that contributed to the deaths of the 19 forest firemen at Yarnell Hill. The second story came after Prescott's wild-lands chief, in charge of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, alleged multiple misstatements of fact in the first story. This resulted in the correction of three errors, though no major finding of the original piece was proved wrong. (It should be noted that officials refused specific comment repeatedly before the original story was published, only coming forward later in an effort to dispute New Times' reporting.) The third story showed how a Forestry Division-commissioned report on the tragedy – which found that no official did anything wrong – was seriously flawed. Indeed, experts termed it a “coverup.” The fourth article examined an occupational-safety report supporting the paper's findings regarding state ineptitude at Yarnell Hill. The Forestry Division was fined more than $500,000 because of its flawed management of the fire, and lawsuits against the Forestry Division and Prescott's are in the works by families of the slain firefighters.

    Tags: wildfire; firefighters; fire; government; foia

    By John Dougherty

    Phoenix New Times

    2013

  • Cops. Cash. Cocaine.

    Rather than chase drug dealers out of town, police in the city of Sunrise invited them in. The suburban South Florida town has no great cocaine trafficking problem, but police found that selling kilos of the drug, at a discount, could make them millions. The Sun Sentinel exposed the undercover operation and provided a unique look at how far one local police department would go to use forfeiture laws to seize cash and assets from criminal suspects. Many of the deals took place in and around family restaurants, such as TGI Fridays, near the town’s main attraction, a sprawling outlet mall. Police often engineered the stings with the help of a professional lady informant. The newspaper found the city had paid her more than $800,000 over five years to target individuals and draw them into Sunrise. Cops working the stings had a financial incentive too: they made considerable overtime from forfeiture funds.

    Tags: police; drugs; cocaine; trafficking

    By Megan O'Matz, John Maines, Susan Stocker

    Sun-Sentinel

    2013

  • Abuse in G4S' prison exposed in South Africa

    Global security firm G4S runs a prison for profit in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I work for the Wits Justice Project, a collective of investigative journalists who research the criminal justice system. I visited the prison for the first time in September 2012 and talked to some of the inmates who had written to us. Their tales were worrying; they complained about the ‘Ninjas’; the Emergency Security Team (EST), a group of about eight armed men who are called to emergency situations. They are supposed to use minimum force, but according to the prisoners, they went completely overboard. They would take prisoners to the single cell unit, strip them naked, pour water over them and electroshock them with the electronically charged shields they carry with them. Also, the inmates told me how they would be injected forcibly with anti-psychotic drugs, while some of them did not suffer from any mental illness. In addition, they spoke to me about very lengthy isolation, some were placed in isolation cells for up to three years, I spoke to approximately 70 inmates and 25 warders over a period of a year, but these three sources were most crucial: The general. One of the inmates, a general in one of the infamous prison gangs, supplied with me dossiers and names of inmates who had been electroshocked, forcibly injected or placed in isolation for unlawful periods (up to 3 years). The deep throat. A government official who had worked at the prison was very concerned and had written a report in 2009 listing 62 inmates who had been placed in isolation up to 3 years, some of whom had been denied life saving TB and HIV medication. he also compared the prison to Guantanamo bay and mentioned excessive electroshocking The freedom fighter. A warder and informal labour union leader was very helpful in providing an entry with other warders and he leaked interesting information. An anonymous source eventually provided the smoking gun: video and audio footage of a forced injection and audio of electro shocking. I wrote three main stories about the prison and chose to publish in South Africa as well as in the UK, as G4S is head quartered there. I wrote pieces for the South African Citypress and the Mail and Guardian, simultaneously running a story in the British Guardian. When I finally broke the big story on the electroshocks and the forced injections, I also worked closely with the BBC and the South African investigative tv programme Carte Blanche, I provided them access to the results of my year-long research and they produced tv items that were broadcast at the same time as my stories ran in the newspapers. This in turn led to a worldwide coverage of the issue.

    Tags: international; south africa; prisons; abuse

    By Ruth Hopkins

    WITS Journalism

    2013

  • Not Just the NSA Tracking Cellphones

    We uncovered search warrants that show not just big agencies like the FBI or NSA, but small local police departments are taking data off thousands of cell phones belonging to people not suspected of a crime. While this data is sometimes used to track bad guys, we found one case where it was used to track someone who stole a sheriff’s gun out of his car. Police can gather data from thousands of phones with almost no legal structure on what can and can’t be done with the data. No one is monitoring police and there are no federal rules on when a ‘tower dump’ should or should not be authorized. In some cases in South Carolina, police can keep all of the information they receive in a database for 7 years. It’s all happening without the public ever being told data from their cell phone was gathered by police.

    Tags: cellphones; police; technology

    By Clark Fouraker; Scott Cooke; Marybeth Jacoby; Daniel Bonds

    WLTX

    2013

  • There Will Be Diatomaceous!

    In this series of coverage, Mission and State looks at Santa Barbara’s love-hate relationship with oil. As the country dives deeper and deeper into the enhanced-extraction oil boom, Santa Barbara grapples with what to do with the vast oil reserves waiting to be tapped in the North County and offshore. These stories delve into the fractured local oil politics, the strange bedfellows oil development can make of environmentalists, oil companies and politicians, the environmental and developmental legacies informing current debates, the missed opportunities for environmental concessions and the campaign contributions putting politicians in compromising positions. These stories paint the picture of a county in an almost schizophrenic political and cultural dance with itself. During the course of researching and reporting this series, it was revealed that Air Pollution Control District advisory board member and Lompoc City Councilmember Ashley Costa also worked in public relations for Santa Maria Energy, an obvious conflict of interest. Reporter Karen Pelland discovered that the president of a company proposing to slant drill from Vandenberg Air Force Base to get to the vast Tranquillon Ridge offshore reserve made significant political contributions to now-Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek). Garamendi had previously scuttled a deal between environmentalists and PXP oil company for the same reserve that was hailed as a landmark proposal at the time.

    Tags: oil; oil reserves; environmentalists

    By Natalie Cherot, Joe Donnelly, Karen Pelland

    Mission and State

    2013

  • The People vs. Brian Tacadena

    At 11:28 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2013, a Santa Barbara Police Department officer shot and killed 46-year-old Brian Tacadena after the officer encountered Tacadena while patrolling Santa Barbara’s Westside. “The People vs. Brian Tacadena” is an in-depth look into the sequence of events that led to the final moments in Tacadena’s life. The story shows how momentum toward tragedy can build slowly over time and then accelerate with fatal consequences over the course of one evening. Besides being a compelling portrait of a troubled man, the story also shows what can happen when mental health illnesses are left largely untreated. The story also examines the cloistered nature of the Santa Barbara Police Department, especially when it comes to reviewing its officer-involved shootings. The story includes a supplementary video featuring the police department’s public information officer discussing the case and how the police department investigates itself, a criminal law attorney specializing in police brutality, and interviews with Tacadena family members and community activists. The story also featured a slideshow of images from Tacadena’s life as well as documents related to his mental-health treatment while incarcerated.

    Tags: police; mental health illnesses; shootings

    By Sam Slovick, Joe Donnelly

    Mission and State

    2013

  • Failures in the Golden State

    The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees or has some part in regulating everything from nail polish ingredients to oil refineries, radioactive waste to metal recycling in California. At the heart of our series is the story of a department that’s divided, dysfunctional, and ineffective in fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment of the Golden State. We sifted through hundreds of pages of reports, memos, reviews, manifests and legal claims. We also analyzed thousands of records in the department’s hazardous waste tracking system to find out that more than 40% of the hazardous waste manifests in the DTSC’s database contain inaccurate information or are missing key details. Our reporting has held leaders accountable at the DTSC and compelled state lawmakers to call for an investigation of the department, including a legislative hearing this month (January 2014). Through a series of public records requests, we found out some of the department’s top leaders were investing in companies the DTSC oversees. Our reporting into the potential financial conflicts of interest prompted an investigation into deputy director Odette Madriago by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Ms. Madriago resigned from her position six weeks after our report aired. The FPPC investigation remains ongoing.

    Tags: the department of toxic substances control

    By Matt Goldberg; Vicky Nguyen; Elizabeth Wagner; Felipe Escamilla; David Paredes; Mark Villarreal

    KNTV-TV (San Jose, Calif.)

    2013

  • Money, Power and Transit

    This ongoing inewsource investigation into a public transit system that serves 12 million passengers a year by bus and rail exposed perils to public safety, mismanagement of millions of public dollars and perhaps most egregious: enduring bureaucratic arrogance in the face of public scrutiny. Over the course of a year, inewsource produced more than 30 stories, radio broadcasts, TV features, and interviews. We experimented with new levels of transparency in our reporting and storytelling. We spent thousands of dollars pursuing public information and battling regular retraction demands. The series drew from a multitude of inside sources, leaked documents, hard-fought public records, emails, and other materials to unearth the truth about what’s going wrong inside the San Diego’s North County Transit District. Our stories have drawn intense fire from the district’s legal department — all the while those responsible to the taxpayers and the transit riders have consistently refused to respond to interview requests or to answer specific written questions.

    Tags: public transit; San Diego; multimedia

    By Brad Racino; Ryann Grochowski Jones; and Lorie Hearn

    inewsource

    2013

  • Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome

    The Medill Justice Project, through the hard-hitting reporting of student journalists, has taken on a largely overlooked and misunderstood area of the criminal justice system: shaken-baby syndrome. Scores of mothers, fathers, day care workers and other caregivers throughout the United States are being accused of violently shaking children, despite an emotionally charged debate in medical circles about the accuracy of the diagnosis. Our relentless examination of this issue—through published investigative articles, breaking stories, fight for public records, motions in federal court, multimedia features and other stories—has provided a deeper, nuanced understanding of this complex subject. Our groundbreaking investigations into shaken-baby syndrome have uncovered revelatory information, influenced criminal justice proceedings, impacted public policy and challenged government agencies to abide by the First Amendment.

    Tags: shaken baby syndrome; babies; criminal justice; diagnosis;

    By Christina Assi; Anna Bisaro; Rebecca Cohen; Anika Dutta; Stephanie Fuerte; Alex Hampl; Sarah Husain; McKenzie Maxson; Lauryn Schroeder; Megan Thielking; Diama Tsai

    The Medill Justice Project

    2013

  • Police Misconduct on Long Island hidden by secrecy law and weak oversight

    A nine-month Newsday investigation found that Long Island law enforcement agencies have breached the trust of the citizens they are paid to protect by using New York State’s officer privacy law to hide egregious cases of police misconduct, ranging from falsifying reports and lying to shooting innocent people. Newsday obtained and published portions of previously secret internal affairs investigations, confidential deadly force investigative reports and more than 6 hours of recorded Internal Affairs interviews. The paper’s effort revealed dozens of previously secret misconduct cases and informed the public of the law that helps keep those records hidden from inspection. Without Newsday, the public might never have learned the scope and breadth of offenses being committed in secret by the officers sworn to protect them.

    Tags: foia; police; privacy laws; police misconduct; internal affairs

    By Gus Garcia-Roberts; Sandra Peddie; Adam Playford; Will Van Sant; Aisha-Al Muslim; Matt Clark; Nicole Fuller; Mark Harrington; David Schwartz; Matthew Doig; Jamshid Mousavinezhad; Erin Geismar; Saba Ali; Michael Aguggia; Matthew Cassella

    Newsday (New York)

    2013