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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  • 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.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Zombie Campaigns

    Zombie Campaigns is an in-depth look at the spending habits of 102 former congresspeople who kept spending campaign donations as if they were still campaigning well after they left office. The reporting uncovered a wealth of personal spending and shone a light on loopholes that allowed some politicians to continue spending for decades after they retired, and in some cases even after they died. Along with the story, we published a searchable database of spending by those candidates we identified as running a zombie campaign.
  • NJ.com: The Force Report

    The Force Report is built on five years of data and 72,677 pages of documents. It details every reported incident of police force from 2012 through 2016, at the time the most recent year of data available for the state's 468 local police departments and the State Police. The resulting analysis revealed troubling trends that escaped scrutiny.
  • Silicon Valley’s Hidden Figures

    Silicon Valley has a big diversity problem. But no one has been able to comprehensively quantify it until now. Some of the multibillion-dollar companies that fuel the global economy have sought to hide how few women and people of color they have in their organizations, refusing to release the data, claiming the information is a trade secret. We built the largest and most comprehensive database of diversity employment data for Silicon Valley available. Through a groundbreaking collaboration with a University of Massachusetts Amherst sociologist, we got Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) data for 177 of the largest tech companies through public records requests and a successful FOIA lawsuit. Through this data, we uncovered disparities and ranked companies based on their diversity scores. By establishing a baseline of comparative data, we were able to hold companies accountable for their diversity hiring practices for the first time. Because of our analysis, the public now knows some of the worst companies when it comes to diversity in Silicon Valley. But we also found that diversity is not an impossible goal to achieve for technology companies: some are doing much better than their peers.
  • Gunshots and Lockdowns: When Nearby Gun Violence Interrupts The School Day

    The piece focuses on how daily gun violence affects schools in Washington, D.C. What happens when students go to school in areas with a high rate of gun crime? To avoid emotional harm, we took a secondary data analysis approach to answering that question — pulling gunshot data from D.C.'s Shotspotter database. We then calculated the number of gunshots within a 1,000-foot radius of schools, and used the geography of the city to begin to find our way to an answer.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • WSJ: When Wall Street Flips Municipal Bonds, Towns and Schools Pay the Price

    A yearlong investigation uncovered how Wall Street firms profit and local governments often lose out when they sell bonds in the municipal market. The Wall Street Journal combined sources to create an unprecedented database of municipal bond trades to show how the securities firms governments pay to sell their debt routinely underprice those bonds, unload them with very little risk, then often buy them back at higher prices. Those not bought back also run up in price as other securities firms snap them up and resell them.
  • ProPublica: Trump Town

    Trump Town is a searchable database of 2,816 current and former Trump administration political appointees, including their jobs and offices, employment history, lobbying records, government ethics documents, financial disclosures and, in some cases, resumes. We made the data available and easy to use so journalists and researchers can use it in their own work. Prior to this news application, much of this data was either not accessible to the public or not searchable.
  • ProPublica: Civil Wrongs

    Nowhere has the Trump administration's pullback on civil rights been more pronounced or damaging than in education. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Education Department has deep-sixed thousands of civil rights complaints — especially those alleging systemic discrimination by school districts and colleges. In their series, "Civil Wrongs," reporters Annie Waldman of ProPublica and Erica L. Green of The New York Times exposed the department's indifference, and the toll on African-American, Latino, and Native American students from Virginia to Montana. Their work has already had significant impact, and is likely to be even more influential in 2019 as Democrats who now control the U.S. House of Representatives tackle DeVos’ civil rights record. Alongside their reporting, the team, which included news app developers Lena Groeger and David Eads, created two interactive databases: one allowing readers to look up civil rights investigations into their school districts and colleges and another illustrating racial disparities in educational opportunities and discipline.