Tags : Behind the Story

Behind the Story: New Jersey reporter finds inconsistencies in 2008 death investigation

Chris Baxter

Chris Baxter and NJ Advance Media wrestled out a compelling and untold story, let the digital presentation take the lead and came away with a “smashing” investigative success.

Using a system he developed to keep tabs on lawsuits involving state police, Baxter came upon the stifled story of Kenwin Garcia, a Newark man who died in 2008 after an altercation with police along the side of the highway.

Baxter embarked on a deep reporting project that resulted in 7,000 words, an 8-page special print section in The Star-Ledger and a digital presentation as rich as any Baxter ...

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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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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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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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