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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  • 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.
  • ’Drag this out’: Atlanta mayor’s office directs delay of public requests

    In a unique partnership, WSB-TV joined resources with investigative journalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reporters, producers and editors crafted stories for the needs of their audiences and platforms but broke them in tandem. Management from both media outlets collaborated to make a formal complaint with the state after reporting on city officials frustrating Georgia’s Open Records Act. WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both owned by parent company Cox Media Group
  • CinEnq: Professor accused of sexual misconduct

    Performer Bradley Garner was accused by several of his students of sexual misconduct that spanned two decades and involved minors. Yet, he quietly retired from the University of Cincinnati and was still teaching elsewhere. This story exposed the truth behind Garner’s departure -- that he faced allegations of sexualizing students, having sex with students and secretly filming it and texting explicit messages to students. It shone a light on the abusive flute studio he was running and the harassment those he taught around the country said they had to endure. And it prompted immediate action to protect future students.
  • The death of Korryn Gaines

    These stories explored the death of Korryn Gaines after a six-hour standoff with Baltimore County police. Baltimore Sun reporters were able to shed light on the incident with stories about Gaines’ past encounters with police and social media postings, an exclusive interview with the neighbor who allowed police to drill holes in the wall he shared with Gaines’ apartment so they could monitor her movements, and another exclusive on court documents showing that police sought Gaines’ private Facebook messages and other account information. Reporters also explored other angles, such as the role social media is playing in encounters with police across the country. Finally, reporters gained exclusive access to the investigative file that provided a trove of information on how the standoff went down.
  • Two linked scandals: An embattled attorney general and a besieged Supreme Court

    In a series of investigative articles, The Philadelphia Inquirer raised major questions about the performance of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. At the same time, the paper probed a related scandal involving misconduct at the state Supreme Court, whose justices Kane accused of swapping offensive emails on state computers—messages laden with pornography and misogynistic, homophobic and racist jokes. Unlike most entries in this contest, the newspaper’s work on this investigation has played out over more than a year in a saga that has gathered more and more momentum.
  • Sex and sabotage

    Through an extensive use of Oklahoma's Open Records Act, the Journal Record obtained emails, text messages and records of telephone calls that told how two Department of Environmental Quality staff members conspired with a state legislator to torpedo the agency's funding. The records show the lawmaker was romantically entangled with one agency official and also showed the agency's executive director sexually harassed other agency employees and promoted employees who were not qualified.
  • Message Wars

    In the 12 years since 9/11, al Qaeda continues to inspire numerous acts of terror with a sophisticated information campaign. Messages are spread online using sites like YouTube and other jihad forums. So far, law enforcement in the United States has been unable to find a way to respond, but that is not the case in the United Kingdom. Before 9/11, radicalization was up close and personal. A recruit was identified and groomed, taken to a camp and trained. Today, much of radicalization is global, done through sophisticated propaganda videos in the darkest corners of the Internet. The heart of this piece was investigative journalism, speaking with a former radicalized jihadist and on patrol with the officers at the front line of Britain’s outreach program.
  • Emergency text alert system inconsistent across college campuses

    In the wake of violence across college campuses in recent years, the wide range of percentages of college students who receive emergency notifications via text message reflect the inconsistent and patchwork emergency notification systems that U.S. universities and colleges use. In addition, universities vary on how they keep track of who and how many receive these alerts. But a review of university procedures at about two-dozen universities by Midwest student reporters revealed that universities automatically send out emergency notifications to school email addresses, but often allow students to opt-in for text messages. In fact, many schools do not require students to register for and receive text messages.
  • Sex Offender Preferential Treatment?

    An asst. cheerleading coach in a small town was registered as a sex offender after sending a teenager inappropriate text messages. He was sentenced to a 5 year supervised probation. But the judge who sentenced him went to the same church as the coach. Over time, the two became friends so the coach tried to use the friendship to his benefit and get off of his 5-year probation, early. He filed to have the remainder of his probation terminated after having only served half of it. The lead investigating agency was never informed, until we got involved. After we got involved, the coach eventually withdrew his request to end his probation early. So now, the registered sex offender is serving out his entire 5 years.
  • Message Machine

    “Message Machine,” a news application, takes an innovative approach to decode how the presidential campaigns were shaping fundraising appeals and other communications to potential voters. Going into the election cycle, there were reports that the presidential campaigns were gearing up to use "data science" -- sophisticated quantitative analysis and statistics -- to "microtarget" messages as never before. They had little interest in explaining what they were doing, however, for obvious strategic reasons. When a couple we knew told us they'd received similar emails simultaneously from the Obama campaign, each asking for donations, but in language that differed in subtle, but important ways, we set out to reverse engineer how the campaign was altering its tone and content to specific audiences. ProPublica News Application Developer Jeff Larson created a system to automatically gather tens of thousands of campaign emails and analyze how they were targeted. He used the same sophisticated techniques, such as machine learning and natural language processing, used by the campaign. There were a huge number of stories done after the campaign about the “geniuses” at Obama For America, but ProPublica was virtually alone in providing real-time, deep analysis of the operation while the campaign was still happening.