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.




Search results for "struggles" ...

  • Pharma’s Windfall: The Mining of Rare Diseases

    In 1983, California congressman Henry Waxman helped pass the Orphan Drug Act to encourage research on rare diseases. The law offered financial incentives to drug makers in hopes they would tackle long-neglected disorders while breaking even or posting modest profits. Ever since, the Orphan Drug Act was lauded as government at its finest, praised for providing a boon in generating new pharmaceuticals. But by the act’s 30th anniversary, The Seattle Times found that the law’s good intentions had been subverted. In what amounts to a windfall, the pharmaceutical industry has exploited this once-obscure niche of the healthcare field, turning rare diseases into a multibillion dollar enterprise and the fastest-growing sector of America’s prescription-drug system. The series, “Pharma’s Windfall: The Mining of Rare Diseases,” uses extensive data from the FDA and NIH, along with financial reports from the SEC to show the financial incentives behind the system. For the human repercussions, the reporters found and told the stories of families struggling with rare disease.

    Tags: rare diseases; disease; pharmaceuticals

    By Michael J. Berens; Ken Armstrong

    The Seattle Times


  • The Gifted Life of a Governor

    Over months of in-depth investigative reporting, Washington Post reporters discovered Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell--a respected state leader and rising star in his party--held a secret: He and his family had accepted lavish gifts and large loans from the chief executive of a struggling dietary supplement manufacturer, even while working to promote the company. The gifts included luxury items such as designer clothes, a Cape Cod vacation, a Rolex watch and a catered wedding. The money totaled $120,000 in loans over about a year in 2011 and 2012, none repaid before the Washington Post started asking questions. After dozens of articles, the governor apologized for his actions and repaid the money. State and federal authorities opened criminal probes and leaders in both parties have promised to rewrite state ethics laws, long considered some of the most lax in the nation.

    Tags: ethics; government; bribes; gifts

    By Rosalind S. Helderman; Carol D. Leonnig; Laura Vozzella

    The Washington Post


  • Pay For The Triggerman: NBC 5 Investigates the Army’s Treatment of the Fort Hood Shooter and His Victims.

    Just hours after we aired the first story in this series it was flashed across the globe by news sites from the Huffington Post, to the Washington Times, and the London Daily Mail. In a matter of days several Congressmen worked to address what NBC 5 Investigates first reported: Major Nidal Hasan the man who shot and killed 13 U.S. soldiers and wounded another 32 at Fort Hood was still on the Army payroll and had received nearly $300,000 from U.S. taxpayers since his arrest. That did not sit well with victims of the attack still struggling to recover financially and emotionally. The Army had denied the victims pay and benefits awarded to other soldiers wounded at U.S. military bases overseas and in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Over the next seven months our coverage continued in-depth over a series of eleven reports uncovering never-before-reported details about the Army’s treatment of the gunman and the victims. V.I.P. style helicopter rides for Hasan to help him work on his defense, his own private office created at Fort Hood, and millions spent on trial preparations during a process that dragged on for nearly four years.

    Tags: military; shooting; payroll

    By Scott Friedman; Eva Parks; Shannon Hammel; Peter Hull; Jose Sanchez; Shane Allen

    KXAS-TV (Dallas)


  • Supplement Shell Game

    An investigation by USA TODAY reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminals turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.

    Tags: dietary supplements; companies; pharmaceuticals

    By Alison Young

    USA Today


  • The Child Exchange: Inside America’s underground market for adopted children

    Child welfare officials had heard the anecdotes: Desperate parents who felt they could no longer raise children they’d adopted overseas were using the Internet to offer those children to strangers. How often was it happening, and what became of the kids? Because parents handled the custody transfers privately, nobody knew. No government agency was involved, and none was investigating the practice, called “private re-homing.” For 18 months, Reuters reporters committed to a task that the government had never attempted. We sought to document cases of illicit custody transfers by dissecting one of a half dozen little-known online bulletin boards where struggling parents congregated – a marketplace we called The Child Exchange.

    Tags: child abuse; adoption

    By Megan Twohey



  • Clery Act Challenges -- Many schools continue to struggle with law or fail to follow guidelines

    This story focused broadly on university compliance with the Clery Act, a federal campus safety law first enacted in the aftermath of a Lehigh University student's murder more than 25 years ago. While schools are expected to be diligent in disclosing campus crime statistics, many institutions do not devote significant manpower to overseeing Clery Act compliance and the intricacies of the law can be a source of confusion.

    Tags: Clery act; Crime

    By Casey McDermott

    The Lion's Roar


  • Stress Over Lagoon Project Led to Stephenie Glas' Suicide, Boyfriend Says

    This story, which ran in Malibu Patch, followed up on what led activist and L.A. City firefighter Stephenie Glas to shoot herself in the head. Gas was a supporter of the controversial Malibu Lagoon project, who had gotten into a heated argument with protesters earlier in the week. She was an object of much vile in the community for her support of the project. The exclusive interview with her boyfriend, who is also an activist and witnessed the suicide, exposed the impact the discord in the community had on Glas' decision to take her life. Glas was also struggling from the stress of her firefighting job. Following the publication of the story, the project opponents and supporters put aside their differences and worked together for months.

    Tags: suicide; firefighters; malibu lagoon project

    By Jessica E. Davis


  • Waiting to React: Tennessee's child protection failures

    A lawmaker's concern about child deaths triggered a probing and ongoing Tennessean investigation into the failings and illegal practices of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. The newspaper detailed how the department broke the law by not reporting deaths to lawmakers; failed to keep accurate fatality statistics; allowed thousands of child abuse hotline calls to go unanswered; struggled to handle a spike in violence at youth detention centers; and adopted adversarial positions against child advocates, lawmakers, police and the agencies that oversee the department. Led by two reporters, the newspaper has exposed the department's $37 million computer installation debacle, shortcomings in how officials contract with private companies, and how a wave of abrupt senior-level firings made DCS one of the most volatile departments in Tennessee government. Through records requests, data analyses, close readings of reports and audits, and persistent questioning, The Tennessean penetrated the secretive $650 million department and provided a level of accountability just as the department has moved to dismantle other forms of oversight. The reporting prompted Gov. Bill Haslam to personally review DCS case files and forced the department to comply with fatality notification laws. An ongoing open records lawsuit led by The Tennessean and backed by the state's largest ever media coalition now seeks to force DCS to make child fatality records available to the media and the public for the first time.

    Tags: Wadhwani; Gonzalez; child deaths; children; department of children's services

    By Anita Wadhwani;Tony Gonzalez,

    Tennessean (Nashville, Tenn.)


  • WBEZ: The crisis hidden inside Illinois’ prisons

    This series of stories was supposed to focus on the cost, and the effects of overcrowding in Illinois prisons on inmates and public safety. However, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn forced us to focus much of our series on the fact that reporters were not being allowed into the prisons. Our requests early in 2012 to visit two minimum security prisons were denied by the Quinn administration, kicking off a very public battle between us (WBEZ) and the governor. After immense public pressure failed to move the governor we threatened to sue. The Illinois Department of Corrections finally agreed to have reporters come in to tour facilities but those tours are still quite restricted and the public battle for more access continues and litigation remains an option. While documenting that struggle, the stories also focus the state’s attention on corrections by talking with recently released inmates, advocates, attorneys, legislators, prison officials and employees about the current crisis of prison overcrowding in Illinois. Through their stories we tried to bring the public inside the locked facilities despite the governor’s insistence that we stay out.

    Tags: overcrowding; prisons; Illinois department of corrections;

    By Robert Wildeboer

    WBEZ Radio (Chicago)


  • Phantom Debt Collectors

    Hundreds of thousands of cash-strapped Americans were being targeted by abusive debt collectors operating out of overseas call centers, part of what authorities were calling a massive scam that targeted struggling Americans -- especially those who have gone online to apply for payday loans. Armed with personal information from those pilfered applications, the threatening callers, who claimed to be debt collectors poised to initiate legal action, managed to pry loose millions of dollars from their victims -- even when the victims never owed money in the first place. It's what the Federal Trade Commission calls a "phantom debt collection scam." An ABC News investigation pried into the scam and found that, working through call centers in India, the fake debt collectors had dialed at least 2.5 million calls, persuading already cash-strapped victims to send them more than $5 million. Some reported receiving dozens of calls per hour. ABC News tracked down the man to whom FTC officials say all roads led from the scam. For the first time, the most prolific scam to hit Americans in years finally had a face.

    Tags: debt collectors; payday loans; call centers

    By Brian Ross

    ABC News