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 "performance" ...

  • What Transparency Looks Like

    Baltimore City Public Schools spends nearly $16,000 per student, per year, making it the third most funded among America’s 100 largest (Source: U.S. Census). But federal data (NAEP) ranks Baltimore schools as the third lowest performing. In 2017, Fox45 spoke with multiple sources who described a system-wide culture of pushing students through at any cost.
  • PublicSource: Pittsburgh's lack of cybersecurity and transparency

    The City of Pittsburgh's cybersecurity is lacking, according to a commissioned report, and officials won't address the issues publicly. That same report found serious issues with the way the city handles software and other IT projects and how it structures its Department of Innovation & Performance. Through a public records request and "copy and paste" sleuthing, PublicSource revealed details about how city cybersecurity and IT practices are lacking, potentially putting citizens and local government at risk.
  • 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.
  • The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers

    This is the first undercover investigation into the world of performance enhancing drugs in American sports. In order to shed light on this otherwise opaque world, Al Jazeera hired a professional athlete to infiltrate a network of doctors, pharmacists and others who are complicit in helping athletes cheat the system. They shared with Al Jazeera their techniques for beating the tests and finding sources for designer drugs. They also provided the names of elite athletes that they worked with. The investigation has shifted the national conversation about illicit drug use in the NFL and will spur numerous inquiries into the allegations levied in the film. The fallout will likely continue for months, perhaps years, as criminal investigations build on the research gathered in this project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJRPxmTuxoI
  • Objective Troy: A Terrorist, A President, and the Rise of the Drone

    Objective Troy tells the story of the life and death of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American imam who denounced 9/11 and called for bridge-building between Muslims and the United States, only to leave the U.S., grow steadily more militant and join Al Qaeda in Yemen. He became the most effective recruiter for Al Qaeda in English; actively plotted to kill Americans, including by coaching the underwear bomber who tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit in 2009; and finally became the first American citizen to be deliberately killed in a drone strike, on orders of President Obama in 2011. The book’s title comes from Awlaki’s code name on the government’s kill list: during a frantic 20-month manhunt that engaged all of the intelligence agencies, Awlaki was Objective Troy. Reported all over the United States and in Yemen, Objective Troy is the most detailed and best-documented account of the life of a central figure in the post-9/11 history of terrorism. Among the revelations in the book are: the first account of Awlaki’s embrace of fundamentalist Islam, while a freshman at Colorado State; the real reason that Awlaki left the United States, abandoning a promising career as a mainstream spokesman for American Muslims; an intelligence mistake in the hunt for Awlaki that led to the disastrous unintentional killing by drone of a popular Yemeni deputy governor; and Awlaki’s afterlife on the Internet, including more than 40,000 YouTube videos, now with the added authority of what his admirers see as martyrdom. The book gives the fullest account to date of President Obama’s embrace of the armed drone as a weapon against terrorism and how its performance has fallen short of the government’s claims.
  • Surgeon Scorecard

    ProPublica analyzed Medicare claims data, and published, for the first time, the risk-adjusted complication rates for almost 17,000 surgeons who perform certain elective operations. These operations are: hip and knee replacements, spinal fusions, gallbladder removals, and prostate removals or prostate resections. Until now, there was no national public database that named surgeons who had the lowest and highest complication rates. ProPublica found that patients are at risk of medical mishaps even when undergoing these relatively low-risk procedures. We identified more than 65,000 cases where patients were harmed or died. Surgeon Scorecard allows patients to make better-informed decisions about where to go for care. It also provides surgeons and hospitals with a benchmark for how their performance compares to their peers nationally -- which is important because the medical industry does so little now to track complications. One of our most important findings was about the distribution of these mistakes. Many surgeons had complication rates 2 or 3 times the national average. But these surgeons weren’t exclusively operating at sub-par hospitals. Instead they could be found at prestigious institutions, sometimes in positions of leadership. Even more striking was the variation between high and low complication rate surgeons performing the same procedure at the same hospital.
  • Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

    Caffeinated is a wide-angle investigation of the science, culture, business and regulation of America’s favorite pick-me-up. The book explores this addictive, largely unregulated drug found in coffee, energy drinks, teas, colas, chocolate, and even pain relievers. Caffeinated explains why caffeine has such a powerful effect on everything from boosting our mood to improving our athletic performance, as well as how—and why—brands such as Coca-Cola have ducked regulatory efforts for decades. And the book shows how caffeine is quietly used to reinforce our buying patterns, and how it can play a role in promoting surprising health problems like obesity and anxiety.
  • The Fall of Lance Armstrong

    This groundbreaking investigative report culminated our extensive reporting into how American cyclist Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France seven times.
  • VA Legionnaires' Outbreak

    An announcement by the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in late 2012 about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed five people and sickened 16 others there was reported by local, state and some national media largely from the officially presented account. But editors and reporters at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review felt the announcement raised more questions than it answered. A team of reporters assembled to dig deeper into what went wrong. An investigation led to a series of stories during 2013 that exposed a broken health care system rife with testing errors and what appeared to be an almost deliberate failure to inform the public. In fact, the Trib revealed top VA officials reaped thousands of dollars in performance bonuses that were awarded just before the public announcement. The Trib documented that the VA’s problems extend beyond the Pittsburgh system. Nationwide, the newspaper found the deaths of at least 21 veterans in the past year appear to be linked to failures in VA medical care.
  • Stacked Up: Do Philly students have the books they need?

    Stacked Up employs data journalism to explore the hidden book crisis in Philadelphia schools. Most people would be surprised at the idea that a public school wouldn't have enough books. In Philadelphia, however, students and parents regularly complain of textbook shortages. A 10th grader at Parkway West High School told me that students often have to share books in class and can't take them home to do homework. Many books are in poor condition: "There were pictures of testicles drawn on every page," she said of one of her ninth-grade books. Access to books is particularly critical because a school today is labeled a success or failure based on students’ performance on high-stakes tests. The tests are highly specific and are aligned with state educational standards. The tests are also aligned with the textbooks sold by the 4 educational publishers that dominate the educational publishing market—the same publishers who have a hand in designing and grading the standardized tests. It therefore stands to reason that if students don’t have the right textbooks, they won’t be able to do well on the tests even if they want to.