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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  • 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.
  • Almost Forbidden

    As vaping-related youth nicotine addiction surged across the United States, we exposed a key political decision to ignore the clear warning signs years before the crisis. Government documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times revealed that, four years ago, the Food and Drug administration attempted to ban vaping flavors that were hooking young teenagers to nicotine. But after a deluge of over 100 lobbyists visited the White House, senior political officials overruled experts at the FDA and eliminated the flavor ban, along with much of the scientific evidence calling for it. Later that year, the national youth vaping rate skyrocketed.
  • Northwest Jails' Mounting Death Toll

    Since 2008, at least 306 people across the Northwest have died after being taken to a county jail. Until now, that number was unknown, in part because Oregon and Washington have not comprehensively tracked those deaths in county jails. If they did, they would find a crisis of rising death rates in overburdened jails that have been set up to fail the inmates they are tasked with keeping safe. Key findings: - Over the past 10 years, the rate of jail deaths has trended upward in Oregon and Washington. In 2008, county jails in Washington had a mortality rate of about 123 deaths for every 100,000 inmates. By 2017, that rate was 162. Jail population data for 2018 were not yet available at the time of publication, but reported deaths spiked that year. A conservative estimate puts the 2018 mortality rate closer to 200 deaths per 100,000 inmates. - In 2018, police shot and killed 39 people between Oregon and Washington, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. For that same year, our investigation found 39 deaths in Oregon and Washington county jails. - At least 70 percent of Northwest inmates who died in the past decade were awaiting trial at the time of their deaths, still considered innocent under the law. - More than 40 percent of deaths happened within an inmate’s first week in jail. A third of all inmates who died never made it past three days. - Suicide, by far the leading cause of jail deaths in the Pacific Northwest, accounted for nearly half of all cases with a known cause of death.
  • The Opioid Files

    The Opioid Files for the first time identified not only the counties flooded with the highest amount of prescription opioid pills at the height of the prescription drug crisis, but the specific manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies that were responsible for bringing those pills into communities. The Post found that over a seven-year period from 2006-2012, over 76 billion pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone were shipped to pharmacies across the country, more than enough for one pill per person in some communities. The Post also found that opioid death rates tracked with the rates of pills being shipped into those counties. And The Post identified counties and pharmacies with suspicious patterns and large amounts of pain pills. In making the data available by county- and pharmacy-level, The Post gave reporters from across the country the opportunity to write stories about their own communities and the impact that pills had on them.
  • A Forgotten Crisis

    Melissa, Tara and Amanda interviewed dozens of military spouses, across every branch, all over the country. Then they cross-referenced their stories to identify the biggest problems and gaps in the system. Finally, they tracked down domestic violence experts, military leaders and others to add critical context and comment. It took over a year to report. The result was five articles that dug into the challenges faced by domestic violence victims in the military: a structure that favors the abuser in which commanders determine if a crime has been committed, a family advocacy program that, in some instances, upholds outdated beliefs about gender roles, and a lack of support for victims who face enormous financial consequences if they choose to leave their partners. HuffPost’s investigation found that service members are rarely investigated or punished for acts of domestic violence. Because of this lack of accountability, many victims we interviewed are still afraid of their former partners. Some have been unable to get protective orders because there is no official record of their partner’s abuse, as paperwork does not travel seamlessly from the military world to the civilian one.
  • California's Teacher Housing

    An EdSource analysis revealed that living where they teach is a fading dream for many California teachers. The analysis of teacher salaries and rents reveals just how crushing California’s housing crisis has become for them. Teachers at the bottom of the salary scale working in the state’s coastal and metro areas are being shut out of affordable housing. Others are also struggling to pay the rent. Rising rents coupled with an ongoing teacher shortage are driving an increasing number of districts to build their own teacher housing.
  • WaPo: The Opioid Files

    The Opioid Files for the first time identified not only the counties flooded with the highest amount of prescription opioid pills at the height of the prescription drug crisis, but the pharmacies that were specifically responsible for bringing those pills in. The Post found that over a seven-year period from 2006-2012, over 76 billion pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone were shipped to pharmacies across the country, in some places more than enough for one pill per person per day in some communities. The Post also found that opioid death rates tracked quite well with the rates of pills being shipped into those counties. And The Post identified counties and pharmacies with suspicious patterns and amounts of pills. In making the data available in county- and pharmacy-level chunks, The Post allowed reporters from other organizations across the country to write stories about their own communities and the impact that pills had on them.
  • So Close, Yet So Costly

    The Great Lakes is experiencing a water affordability crisis that has driven families into debt and led to thousands of people losing access to water. An investigation by APM Reports and Great Lakes Today examined the cost of water over the last 10 years in the six largest cities on the Great Lakes - Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo and Duluth. In the past decade water rates have been rising alarmingly fast, sometimes as much as 200%. As water gets more and more expensive, poor families and communities of color have been hit the hardest. Government run utilities have issued over 360,000 water shutoff notices in the past decade, concentrated in majority black and Latino neighborhoods.
  • Childhood Poverty: Cincinnati's Crisis - Study says Cincinnati needs more affordable housing units to help break cycle of poverty

    For the last four years, we've been researching why Cincinnati has one of the top 5 worst rates of child poverty in the country. Our stories focus on who could be responsible, and more importantly, potential solutions to the problem. We have produced more than 100 stories on this topic since 2015.
  • Toronto Star: Rise of Ghost Hotels

    The data investigation began with the question: Is Airbnb exacerbating Toronto's rental crisis by enabling short-term operations to flourish at the expense of long-term rental stock? We analyzed more than 20,000 Airbnb listings data scraped by independent third-party website insideairbnb.com. We also filed requests for documents on business incorporation to validate our findings about commercial operators.