Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Chicago" ...

  • Broken Bonds

    A Tribune investigation revealed how Chicago’s leaders blew through nearly $20 billion in bond money – a reckless pattern of borrowing that undermined the city’s future by spending on worthless projects, structuring financial deals in ways that could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service rules and piling an unsustainable level of debt onto the shoulders of future generations.
  • Crime and Punishment

    The Chicago Reporter developed a first-of-its-kind series of data-driven stories shedding light on the country's third largest criminal courts system. Each of these stories were built on/based on the same database: More than 11 years’ worth of court records for Cook County. The data set was so rich that we spun it into a series of stories over the year. Collectively, they put consistent picture emerged that put pressure on the judges, police, lawmakers and elected officials who control the criminal justice system.
  • A Rush of Financial Questions

    The Better Government Association (BGA) spent eight months researching the finances of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill), his campaign committees, and nonprofits he founded or otherwise is affiliated with. Our findings, published with the Chicago Sun-Times in a two-part series, paint a troubling portrait of Rush, and question whose interests he’s really serving in Congress.
  • Poverty and Profit

    A unique investigation uncovered the profiteering and government neglect that helped devastate a once-stable African-American community on Chicago's West Side.
  • License to Swill

    The Better Government Association and NBC 5 found that numerous Illinois police and fire labor contracts allow police officers and firefighters to arrive at work with a blood-alcohol level up to and including 0.079 – just below 0.08, at which drivers are legally considered intoxicated in Illinois. Turns out such contract language is, in many cases, decades-old and carried from one labor agreement to the next with little thought. The hazards of first responders being allowed to work “buzzed” is obvious: They deal with life-and-death decisions – whether in burning buildings or while pointing guns at suspects – that demand good decision-making and proper reaction times that alcohol can compromise. Our story came on the heels of the City of Chicago approving a $4.1 million settlement to the family of an unarmed man fatally shot by an on-duty Chicago cop who had been drinking alcohol prior to his shift.
  • Crime and Punishment

    The Chicago Reporter developed a first-of-its-kind series of data-driven stories shedding light on the country's third largest criminal courts system. Each of these stories were built on/based on the same database: More than 11 years’ worth of court records for Cook County. The data set was so rich that we spun it into a series of stories over the year. Collectively, they put consistent picture emerged that put pressure on the judges, police, lawmakers and elected officials who control the criminal justice system.
  • Homicide Watch

    Donna Hall's son was murdered at an Austin Popeyes restaurant on Jan. 18, 2013. Almost a year later, she's still looking for answers, but due to the threat of living near the murderer and any accomplices, Hall and her family all moved over 500 miles south of Austin, Chicago. She believes there was a lot the police could have done with her case--her biggest evidence is a surveillance camera she said was manually turned away from the direction the shooter shot from. The other cameras weren't working and were left untouched--which Det. Vince Alonzo confirmed to me during my interview. This led to a conclusion that the shooter had insider knowledge--someone must have told the shooter and accomplices which cameras were working and which were not... Hall said the camera was not dusted for prints. Det. Alonzo would not confirm this.
  • Empty-desk epidemic

    A groundbreaking examination of internal Chicago Public Schools records exposed a grievous injustice and sparked two new state laws and a powerful push for reform. Nearly 32,000 of the city's K-8 grade students — or roughly 1 in 8 —miss a month or more of class per year, while some youngsters vanish from the attendance rolls for years at a stretch, the newspaper's investigation of protected student-level data found. Chicago officials were publishing upbeat statistics that masked the devastating pattern of absenteeism -- even as the missed days robbed youth of their futures and cost taxpayers millions in funding keyed to attendance. The flood of missed days disproportionately impact impoverished African-American youngsters as well as children with disabilities. The journalism drew heavily on social science research methods. In one of many examples, the lead reporter became a Nieman fellow, qualified as a Harvard University researcher on human subjects, then worked through Harvard's Institutional Review Board to obtain and analyze Chicago's attendance database under a contract he crafted between Harvard and the Chicago Public Schools. Based on that research, the reporters subsequently found a way to obtain crucial parts of the data through public records requests.
  • Playing With Fire

    For decades, manufacturers have packed the foam cushions inside sofas, loveseats and upholstered chairs in homes across America with toxic flame retardants. Companies did this even though research shows the chemicals – linked to cancer, developmental problems and impaired fertility – don’t slow fires and are migrating into the bodies of adults and children. That began to change in 2012 when the Chicago Tribune’s investigative series “Playing With Fire” exposed how the chemical and tobacco industries waged a deceptive, decades-long campaign to promote the use of flame retardant furniture and downplay the hazards. As a result of the series, historic reforms are underway, and flame retardants became one of the top public health issues of the year. The series sparked two U.S. Senate hearings and the Environmental Protection Agency began a broad investigation. Most importantly, California announced it would scrap the rule responsible for flame retardants’ presence in homes throughout the nation.
  • Subsidizing Failure

    A Chicago Reporter investigation found that public officials have looked the other way as landlords—who have received more than $1 billion in federal housing subsidies during the past decade—are running some of their properties into the ground and, in some cases, using the buildings as if they are their own personal ATMs.