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 "history" ...

  • 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.
  • Tainted Water

    Canadians have every reason to believe that the water that runs from their taps is beyond reproach: abundant, clean and safe. But the “Tainted Water” investigation, an unprecedented national collaboration of universities and news organizations, exposed the risks faced by millions of Canadians whose drinking water contains elevated levels of lead, a powerful, insidious neurotoxin, and other contaminants. Coordinated by the staff at the Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ), “Tainted Water” is the largest project of its kind in Canadian history, and possibly the largest student-led project worldwide. The consortium brought together more than 120 journalists, student journalists and faculty members from nine post-secondary institutions and six news organizations and their bureaus over a period of 18 months to report the series. Journalism students and reporters combined their findings and produced local, regional and national investigative features, released as a series of print, digital and TV stories, making international headlines.
  • Bribery Division

    The Bribery Division, an international investigation into Latin America’s largest construction company, reveals fresh evidence of hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious payments linked to major infrastructure projects. Brazilian multinational Odebrecht has been implicated in a cash-for-contracts scandal that the U.S. Department of Justice has described as “the largest foreign bribery case in history.” The Bribery Division investigation unveils dramatic new information in taking readers inside the belly of the beast: Odebrecht’s Division of Structured Operations, a specialized unit created for the primary purpose of managing the company’s graft. A team of more than 50 journalists across the Americas, led by ICIJ, examined more than 13,000 Odebrecht documents from a secret communication platform used by the Structured Operations unit. The team’s sprawling expose revealed Odebrecht’s cash-for-contracts operation was even bigger than the company had acknowledged to prosecutors and had involved prominent figures and massive public works projects not mentioned in the criminal cases or other official inquiries to date.
  • An Innocent Man?

    Newsday’s multi-media investigation “An Innocent Man?” was the first to reveal widespread wrongdoing by Suffolk law-enforcement authorities in the 1975 Keith Bush murder conviction, one of the longest-running “innocent man” cases in U.S. history. In a year-long investigation, Newsday reporter Thomas Maier detailed: how police allegedly beat a false confession out of then-17-year-old Bush for the 1975 sex-related murder of schoolmate Sherese Watson; how forensic experts offered flawed evidence about Bush’s guilt and later lost the alleged murder weapon; how the prosecution’s main witness against Bush later recanted and said she made up all of her testimony; how DNA evidence pointing to Bush’s innocence was rejected; and, mostly significantly, how Bush’s trial prosecutor covered-up evidence of another potential suspect, John W. Jones Jr., who placed himself at the murder scene. That evidence about Jones remained a secret and Bush was convicted and sent to prison for 33 years. Newsday’s investigation began in June 2018 and the resulting 15,000-word print report and an accompanying documentary were published together in May 2019. Shortly afterward, a report by the current Suffolk County district attorney concluded that Bush had been wrongly convicted and a judge vacated his sentence – 44 years later. Several follow-ups by Newsday detailed reaction to the Bush case and were reflected in an updated documentary, written by Maier and edited by Newsday owner Patrick Dolan, which was posted on December 31, 2019. Maier’s painstaking work – which involved dozens of interviews and thousands of pages of legal documents – shed light on a tragic incident in the past and helped result in other similar cases receiving a thorough investigation.
  • Cops and Robbers

    This series charts the path of perhaps the most corrupt officer to wear a Baltimore Police badge, from his history of ignored complaints of abuse and untruthfulness to showing the depths of crimes uncovered by a federal investigation, including drug trafficking and robbery. The story maps out how the corruption was not an isolated event confined to a particular unit, but rather ingrained in the culture of “plainclothes” police units long relied on to combat crime. It exposes new allegations, and educates readers who might otherwise not understand the negative effects of aggressive policing employed in Baltimore’s most high-crime neighborhoods.
  • Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

    The first reported cases of Lyme disease surfaced in 1968; a half century later, CDC scientists believe there could be more than 300,000 new cases in the US every year. As this and other debilitating tick-borne diseases continue to spread, their origins have remained elusive. Some believe global warming is fueling the epidemic, others attribute it to human migration. But the fundamental question persists: where did Lyme disease come from? This mystery prompted Stanford University science writer and Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby to launch an investigation that led her to startling discoveries linking the outbreak to America’s clandestine biological warfare program. In BITTEN: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons (Harper Wave; May 14, 2019; ISBN: 978-006-289-6278; 352 pages; $26.99)—a riveting work of scientific reportage and biography that reads like a thriller—Newby reveals the story of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind the disease, and his role in covering up evidence that could implicate another tick- borne organisms in the original outbreak.
  • "The Costs of the Confederacy" / "Monumental Lies"

    Reporters Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler, along with a team of Type Investigations researchers, spent more than a year investigating public funding for sites—monuments, statues, parks, libraries, museums—and Confederate “heritage” organizations that promote an inaccurate “Lost Cause” version of American history. According to scholars, that ideology distorts the nation’s collective past by venerating Confederate leaders and the common Confederate soldier; framing of the Civil War as a struggle for Southern states’ rights against “northern aggression”; denying Southern culpability and slavery itself for any role in precipitating the war; and presenting chattel slavery as a humane, Christianizing institution. This is more than mere Confederate myth-making, it is a century-and-half old strategy that was historically deployed to terrorize and disenfranchise African American citizens and to reinstall white supremacy across the South in the wake of Reconstruction. The historic sites that perpetuate these myths have been central to racial violence in recent years, from the Dylann Roof shooting at the AME Zion Church — he had visited Confederate sites before his attack — to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, centered around the defense of a Confederate monument.
  • WBEZ: A 'Broth of Legionella' And Why It Keeps Killing At An Illinois Veterans' Home

    Illinois law changed and the most expensive governor’s race in American history swung against the incumbent after WBEZ produced more than 40 enterprise stories in 2018 about the mishandling of recurring Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks tied to 14 deaths at the largest state-run veterans’ home.
  • The Record / NorthJersey.com: Toxic Secrets

    Record reporters explore a DuPont site's history to uncover why a plume of toxic groundwater remains under more than 400 Pompton Lakes, N.J., homes almost 30 years after the chemical company agreed to clean it up.