Tags : Behind the Story

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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Behind the Story: How KSHB-Kansas City uncovered a trail of dirty deeds

Video by Ryan Kath and John Woods, KSHB

KSHB-Kansas City’s year-long investigation into a widespread real estate fraud scheme started simple – with a tip from an observant neighbor.

But when reporter Ryan Kath started looking into the housing documents, he spotted a bigger problem. Someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living and the dead. Often, Kath found, the homeowners had no idea.

It’s a crime that’s “shockingly easy,” and little oversight was in place to keep it from happening. The dirty deeds forced victims to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees ...

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Behind the Story: The Desert Sun’s investigation into off-duty Marine deaths

Brett Kelman | The Desert Sun

In 2011, three car crashes caught the attention of Greg Burton, executive editor of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California. The first involved a 100 mile-per-hour road race that led to a deadly wreck at a park. The other two also ended with fatalities. All three involved Marines.

The news got Burton wondering, why were so many Marines dying off duty?

The Desert Sun found that, since 2007, more Marines from the nearby Twentynine Palms military base have died off-duty and on American soil than in combat in the Middle East. A little less ...

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Behind the Story: How KDNK investigated gas spills on private property

Photo courtesy of KDNK

Oil and gas companies reported about 90 spills last year in heavily-drilled Garfield County, Colorado. Many of the leaks happened on private properties leased to drilling companies, said Ed Williams, a reporter at community radio station KDNK.

But when unsafe levels of dangerous chemicals like arsenic and benzene contaminated the land, landowners were sometimes left in the dark, Williams found.

While companies are legally required to notify landowners about spills, state spill reports don’t require them to document the property owner’s name. That’s made it difficult for regulators to enforce the law.

To ...

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Do universities play a role in student suicides?

By Nikhila Henry, The Times of India

Can the dead talk? In rare cases they do.

Mudassir Kamran, a 25-year-old Kashmiri student hanged himself in a single bed hostel room at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, India on March 2, 2013.

A day before, the scholar was summoned to a nearby police station and questioned on counts of “harassing” a fellow male student, Vasim Salim. Some administrative staff of the university worked with the police in this round of questioning.

While this at first seemed ...

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Behind the Story: The Indianapolis Star’s probe into the billion-dollar deer farming industry

Ryan Sabalow

It’s like a gold rush. There’s money to be made, but the cost of those riches is a host of harmful, unintended consequences.

A recent Indianapolis Star investigation uncovered evidence linking lucrative deer farming operations to the spread of invasive lice and diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease in wild deer populations. The detailed story, told in five chapters each accompanied by a video, chronicles the rise of commercial deer farming from one Amish farmer with pet deer to the profitable industry that exists today.

“No one really saw this coming,” said Indianapolis ...

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Behind the Story: How USA TODAY pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free

Brad Heath

Lamont Pride was a wanted man the day he fatally shot a New York City police officer during a 2011 robbery. Officials had already passed up opportunities to lock up Pride, who was wanted in connection with a North Carolina shooting. And when the fugitive appeared in a Brooklyn court on a drug charge, a judge aware of the warrant also decided to let him go. A few weeks later Officer Peter Figoski was dead.

USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath followed coverage of the high-profile case.

“This must be out of the ordinary,” Heath remembered thinking. “I wonder ...

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Behind the Story: How the Chicago Sun-Times helped bring a nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley to justice in a 10-year-old homicide

By Paul Saltzman, Chicago Sun-Times

On Jan. 31, 2014, a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a death a decade earlier.

Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko admitted doing exactly what an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times had revealed in early 2011 he did — and what police and prosecutors had twice refused to charge him with doing:

Punching a much smaller man named David Koschman in a drunken encounter outside the late night bars on Division Street in Chicago’s Rush Street nightlife district. Knocking him to the ground with a single punch ...

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Behind the Story: How the Los Angeles Times turned an anonymous tip into a front-page story

Paige St. John

No such records exist. That’s the message Paige St. John received when she requested audit records on the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s GPS monitoring program.

Despite the rocky start, the Los Angeles Times reporter went on to break the story about trivial alerts from GPS monitors overwhelming probation officers in LA County. Officers had been using the monitors to track thousands of felons moved out of California prisons due to overcrowding. Receiving as many as 1,000 alerts a day, officers had come to frequently disregard the notices.

St. John began her investigation back ...

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Using new nonprofit law center, Hawaii’s Civil Beat wins access to police misconduct records

In the flood of paperwork that made its way each year to the Hawaii legislature, a shocking statistic slipped under the radar: About once a week the Honolulu Police Department was suspending or firing an officer for misconduct.

Often the offenses were serious – abusing suspects, lying to federal investigators, tipping off drug dealers. And for nearly two decades the information was kept quiet. Legislators paid little attention to the annual reports. Officers who resigned or got suspended for misconduct were shielded by a political loophole in the state’s public records law. Paperwork documenting the wrongdoing was often destroyed.

Civil ...

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