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.

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  • Trump & Ukraine: Fact and Fiction

    The President’s men, the Vice President’s son and a single phone call: the real story of what happened in Ukraine and why it led to impeachment hearings. As the rumors and accusations surrounding President Trump’s involvement in Ukraine started to swirl, NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel travelled to Ukraine to talk to the key players on the ground to tell the story of why the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Joe Biden’s son was really fired. Engel and his team in Ukraine secured the first broadcast interview with the man central to the story – the Ukrainian former Prosecutor Yuri Leshenko. He revealed that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was applying pressure for an investigation to be reopened, in an apparent attempt to dig for dirt on a political rival. He told NBC exclusively that far from being a one-off conversation, the two had spoken “around ten times”. This information was picked up and widely reported by other media.
  • Guns in Airports, Passengers Packing Heat

    2018 set a record for people trying to carry guns through airport TSA checkpoints. 4,239 guns were found in carry-on bags at airports across the country, that’s 12 guns every day. 86% of those guns were loaded. Our 11-month investigation focused on who was attempting to take firearms through security checkpoints and examined why there has been such a sharp increase in the numbers of weapons found in airports in recent years.
  • Silent No More

    The Hearst Television National Investigative Unit’s year-long investigation, ‘Silent No More,’ uncovered new allegations of child sexual abuse and decades-long cover-ups inside a religious organization in the United States. We also learned investigators from Attorneys General offices in at least three states have been looking into the Jehovah’s Witnesses church – and that the number has likely grown since our four-part series aired in August and September of 2019. Perhaps most importantly, the survivors who agreed to speak on-camera for this series told us they now have a new sense of empowerment; one launched a non-profit, a few testified before state legislatures, several obtained attorneys, and all told us of the confidence they gained after being silent for so long.
  • Puerto Rico After the Storms: Recovery and Fraud

    U.S. taxpayer are footing the biggest bill ever for a natural disaster, $91 billion, going to a government mired in corruption and under FBI investigation. We are the only news program that we know of to tackle and extensively report on how much has been promised and how little has actually been received in the wake of hurricanes Maria and Irma. We travelled to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, learning there has been a great deal of misreporting and misunderstanding about these numbers, which were not easily accessible. To get at the true amounts, we obtained and examined federal and territory documents, pressed the governor’s office, and interviewed officials responsible for the aid including Puerto Rico’s top hurricane recovery official and FEMA’s top official in Puerto Rico. During our visit, there was a popular uprising against the government followed by the governor's resignation, and additional FBI arrests of U.S. and Puerto Rican officials and contractors.
  • How America’s College-Closure Crisis Leaves Families Devastated

    After a chain of for-profit colleges abruptly closed, The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted an in-depth analysis of federal data related to closures. The analysis, which required extensive data work, showed that more than 1,200 college campuses closed in the last five years – an average of 20 closures per month. These closures displaced roughly 500,000 students, most of whom were working adults. The data showed that most of these displaced students were at least 25 years old, and about 57 percent are racial minorities. The vast majority of displaced students – nearly 85 percent – attended a for-profit college. The for-profit industry has received scant oversight from the Trump administration, despite the industry’s long history of problems. The Chronicle’s investigation highlighted the need for greater oversight of this troubled sector of higher education.
  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • A Dangerous Delay

    In November 2018, Olivia Paregol’s father frantically called the University of Maryland from the intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The 18-year-old freshman, who had lived in a mold-infested dorm, was fighting for her life and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Was there anything else on campus making students sick? The director of the student health center knew of severe cases of adenovirus on campus but the public had no clue. Less than a week later, Olivia was dead from the virus and the outbreak would sicken dozens of students. It was only after her death that school officials informed the campus about the virus. Ian Paregol had more questions than answers: How long had the university known? Why didn’t they tell Olivia or other students when they showed up sick at the student health center? Washington Post reporters Jenn Abelson, Amy Brittain and Sarah Larimer interviewed more than 100 people and obtained thousands of pages of medical records, hundreds of emails, text messages, voicemails and other documents to reconstruct the events that led to Olivia’s death and threatened the health and safety of thousands of students at the University of Maryland campus. College officials said it would cost $63,000 to disclose internal emails about the outbreak, so reporters obtained many of those records from state and county agencies. In May, the Washington Post published “A Dangerous Delay,” a detailed investigation examining the outbreak of mold and adenovirus at the University of Maryland. The reporters revealed that the school waited 18 days to inform students about the virus and officials discussed — but decided against — notifying students with compromised immune systems, like Olivia, and those living in mold-infested dorms.
  • "Healthy Holly" and University of Maryland Medical System Investigation

    The “Healthy Holly” scandal began with a suggestion from a source, a state legislator who told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater she thought there might be some irregular contracting practices going on at the University of Maryland Medical System. Broadwater, busy covering the General Assembly session, filed a public records request. The documents showed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other members of the hospital network’s board of directors had no-bid contracts with the medical system -- though the extent of those contracts, especially Pugh's, were not fully described. Broadwater's story -- written quickly as a daily as soon as he received the documents -- was breaking news that got the attention of Maryland's political establishment: University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals. Immediately, Broadwater and other Baltimore Sun reporters followed their instincts and tips that were coming in -- including that Pugh had failed to print many of the books she’d been paid to produce, while thousands of others were sitting unread in a Baltimore school system warehouse. Meanwhile, Sun reporters pulled ethics forms, poured over tax records, filed public information requests and worked sources, breaking story after story that exposed a widening scandal that rocked the state of Maryland, perhaps more than any other series of articles in decades. Their work led to the resignation of the mayor, the UMMS CEO and other top officials, including every member of the medical system's board of directors.
  • Free to Shoot Again

    In cities from coast to coast, the odds that a shooter will be brought to justice are abysmally low and dropping. Police make an arrest in fewer than half of the murders committed with firearms. If the victim survives being shot, the chance of arrest drops to 1 out of 3. Staffing constraints are so dire at many police departments that thousands of nonfatal shooting cases are never even assigned a detective. The shooters are left free to strike again, fueling cycles of violence and eroding the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Trace, in partnership with BuzzFeed News and later WTTW, published “Free to Shoot Again,” a series of stories that interrogates this failure in policing and the toll that it takes on the people who live in the communities most impacted by gun violence.
  • Opportunity Zones

    Trump’s only significant legislative achievement was his 2017 tax code overhaul. It contained a provision to help the poor, called “opportunity zones.” In 2019, ProPublica showed that while the benefits to the poor have not yet materialized, some people have already reaped the rewards: the wealthy and politically connected. We found that wealthy developers lobbied government officials and got their long-planned investments in luxury projects included in the program, despite its avowed goal of attracting new investment into poor areas. Critically, two of our stories feature areas that never should have been qualified for the program in the first place, but were allowed in by a deeply flawed implementation of the law by the U.S. Treasury Department. They were then selected by state governors after lobbying efforts by wealthy developers. Our articles, along with those of other outlets, led to Congressional calls for investigations into the designation process, as well as proposed reforms to make the program more transparent and to eliminate potential abuses by investors.