Stories

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

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  • CBC News - Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo

    This submission is for a podcast with ten episodes. The submission includes the episodes, an audio trailer as well as a link to the podcast website where you can find other material such as photos and video and text stories and uploaded files of the episode transcripts (as supplementary material) On the surface, this is a true crime story trying to answer the question - what happened to Cleo Semaganis Nicotine? She and her siblings in the Cree Indigenous family were taken into government care in Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1970's and adopted into white families in Canada and the United States. The siblings re-connected as adults but can't find Cleo. They've heard that she ran away from a home in Arkansas and was murdered but they don't know if that is true. They want help to at least find where she is buried.
  • Mexican Mafia Killer and the LAPD

    This series started off with a tip: Los Angeles police were bringing a high-profile criminal to a private business event in downtown L.A. That criminal turned out to be Rene "Boxer" Enriquez, a former shot-caller for the Mexican Mafia sentenced to life in prison for two killings. That the LAPD would use public resources to bring him to a private event was only the first surprise — we soon learned Enriquez had a cozy relationship with law enforcement officials and was set to be paroled. We spent weeks digging into his background, contacting the children of one of his victims, interviewing people who knew him, reading court records and transcripts outlining his crimes. The reporting by The Times ultimately prompted two investigations by the LAPD, including one into a high-profile deputy chief. The governor also decided to deny Enriquez parole and keep him behind bars.
  • The Sting: How the FBI created a terrorist

    With access to sealed FBI transcripts that were placed under a federal protective order, "The Sting" reveals how the FBI entrapped a 27-year-old mentally ill Muslim and Kosovar refugee in a counterterrorism sting. While they publicly described Sami Osmakac as a danger to national security, FBI agents privately called him a "retarded fool" whose targets were "wishy-washy" and provided him with weapons and money that he never would have been able to obtain otherwise. "The Sting" is the first behind-the-scenes account of how the FBI operates its controversial counterterrorism stings, which since 9/11 have been responsible for the conviction on federal terrorism charges of more than 175 Muslims in the United States.
  • Journey to Jihad

    This is a nine-thousand-word investigation into the European jihadi pipeline. Using thousands of pages of leaked Belgian Federal Police records, which included wiretaps, electronic surveillance, seized radicalization pamphlets, and interrogation transcripts, it traces the web of connections between jihadi recruiters in Europe, and follows a reluctant ISIS member to Syria and back. It also reveals previously-unknown details on Amr al-Absi, the Syrian emir identified by the U.S. State Department as having been "in charge of kidnappings" for ISIS, as well war crimes committed against local civilians by his European recruits. I also took a portrait of the main subject, and a separate portrait of his father. Both pictures were published in the magazine. The article was my M.A. thesis project at Columbia Journalism School.
  • Hazard Above

    According to a year-long investigation by The Washington Post, hundreds of military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001 and civilian drones are posing a new threat to passenger air traffic in the United States. Drones have revolutionized warfare and are set to revolutionize civil aviation under a 2012 federal law that will allow them to fly freely in American skies. But The Post found that the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration suppressed widespread patterns of safety problems with drones and tried to keep details of accidents and near mid-air collisions a secret. Drawing on more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained under FOIA, The Post uncovered more than 400 major military drone crashes worldwide, including 49 in the United States. Some drone models were particularly crash-prone: almost half of the Air Force’s iconic Predator fleet has been destroyed in accidents. The Post published details of 194 of the most serious accidents in an interactive online database, as well as crash-scene photographs, voice-recording transcripts and a video of a stricken Predator drone filming its own fiery breakup over Iraq. The Post also exposed a rash of dangerous encounters between civilian airplanes and drones flown in contravention of FAA rules intended to safeguard U.S. airspace, a problem that has worsened since the series was first published.
  • Undue Force

    For six months reporter Mark Puente investigated how widespread police brutality was in Baltimore. He used court records and trial transcripts, but the heart of the reporting came from coaxing subjects to tell their stories. In addition, to the human toll, the investigation revealed that the city was paying millions in lawsuits involving police brutality and misconduct, shocking officials who said they were unaware of the scope of the problem. Puente's work resulted in a U.S. Justice Department review of the police department, local reforms and proposals for state legislation.
  • Double homicide suspect misled court

    A man charged in a double-homicide was accused of committing the crime while on work release from the Eaton County Jail. We were able to show, through interviews, court records and transcripts of court hearings, that he had lied in order to be granted work release privileges – and that Eaton County had no system in place to verify that a jail inmate actually had a job. There was rampant finger-pointing, but we were able to show that surrounding counties had verification protocols in place and that Eaton County was unusual.
  • A Damaged District

    For more than a year, Zahira Torres overcame obstacle after obstacle to document one of the worst school cheating scandals in the nation's history. Where other cheating scandals involved altering accountability tests, the El Paso Independent School District gamed the state and federal accountability systems by targeting Mexican immigrant students. In a number of cases, district officials refused to enroll students or pushed out students already enrolled -- denying countless students their constitutional right to an education. In other cases, they arbitrarily reclassified grade levels or altered transcripts, all in an attempt to keep students out of the testing pool. Torres' reporting sparked numerous results. The superintendent who masterminded the scheme went to federal prison. The state education agency removed the school board. And when Torres' reporting documented that the state was aware of details of the cheating in 2010 and cleared the district anyway, the new education commissioner ordered an independent investigation of how the agency missed the cheating.
  • Bad to the Bone

    When four executives of a medical-device company called Synthes went to jail for illegally marketing a bone cement—five patients had died after it was injected into their spines—Mina Kimes knew there had to be a compelling saga behind a case that had generated little coverage beyond local news articles. So she began digging, first with FOIA requests for never-before-published government documents, and then assembling hundreds of pages of court transcripts and internal company e-mails and reports. She used that foundation to begin the harder challenge: persuading Synthes employees, many of them terrified by the criminal case and the company’s intimidating chairman, to talk to her. With six months of grueling, old-fashioned reporting, Kimes succeeded, and “Bad to the Bone” is the masterful result. Not only did she persuade more than 20 current and former company employees to speak, but she also revealed a story whose disturbing breadth far exceeded the case presented in court. Her tour de force reporting raises profound new questions about the culpability of a key figure who wasn’t charged: Hansjörg Wyss, the reclusive and controlling Swiss founder and chairman—one of the richest people in the world—who made crucial decisions about how to sell the bone cement. This is a classic tale of corporate malfeasance: Warned by the government not to sell its bone cement for use in the spine, Synthes ignored the admonition despite clear evidence of lethal danger—a pig had died within seconds when the cement was tested on it—and encouraged surgeons to use the cement on people, five of whom died soon afterward. But “Bad to the Bone” isn’t just an exposé. It opens a window into a broader issue: how the medical system actually runs. Readers see how salespeople with no medical training advise surgeons—inside the OR during operations—on how to use their devices. They experience the tale of one surgeon who continues using the cement even after two of his patients died. Oh, and what sort of justice does Synthes itself receive? Wyss sells it, for $20 billion, to health care giant Johnson & Johnson, which praises Synthes’s “culture” and “values.” Corporate crime. Death on the operating room table. Secret e-mails. Surgeons on the edge. An imperious multibillionaire CEO. It’s a mesmerizing article, and Kimes’s reporting takes readers on a deeply unsettling journey that ensures they’ll never look at the medical system the same way again.
  • A Damaged District

    For more than a year, Zahira Torres overcame obstacle after obstacle to document one of the worst school cheating scandals in the nation's history. Where other cheating scandals involved altering accountability tests, the El Paso Independent School District gamed the state and federal accountability systems by targeting Mexican immigrant students. In a number of cases, district officials refused to enroll students or pushed out students already enrolled -- denying countless students their constitutional right to an education. In other cases, they arbitrarily reclassified grade levels or altered transcripts, all in an attempt to keep students out of the testing pool. Torres' reporting sparked numerous results. The superintendent who masterminded the scheme went to federal prison. The state education agency removed the school board. And when Torres' reporting documented that the state was aware of details of the cheating in 2010 and cleared the district anyway, the new education commissioner ordered an independent investigation of how the agency missed the cheating.