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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

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  • Forsaken by the Indian Health Service

    PBS’s Frontline and The Wall Street Journal investigated sexual predators, terrible doctors, and inept leaders within the U.S. Indian Health Service.
  • 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.
  • "Healthy Holly" and University of Maryland Medical System Investigation

    The “Healthy Holly” scandal began with a suggestion from a source, a state legislator who told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater she thought there might be some irregular contracting practices going on at the University of Maryland Medical System. Broadwater, busy covering the General Assembly session, filed a public records request. The documents showed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other members of the hospital network’s board of directors had no-bid contracts with the medical system -- though the extent of those contracts, especially Pugh's, were not fully described. Broadwater's story -- written quickly as a daily as soon as he received the documents -- was breaking news that got the attention of Maryland's political establishment: University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals. Immediately, Broadwater and other Baltimore Sun reporters followed their instincts and tips that were coming in -- including that Pugh had failed to print many of the books she’d been paid to produce, while thousands of others were sitting unread in a Baltimore school system warehouse. Meanwhile, Sun reporters pulled ethics forms, poured over tax records, filed public information requests and worked sources, breaking story after story that exposed a widening scandal that rocked the state of Maryland, perhaps more than any other series of articles in decades. Their work led to the resignation of the mayor, the UMMS CEO and other top officials, including every member of the medical system's board of directors.
  • 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.
  • Free to Shoot Again

    In cities from coast to coast, the odds that a shooter will be brought to justice are abysmally low and dropping. Police make an arrest in fewer than half of the murders committed with firearms. If the victim survives being shot, the chance of arrest drops to 1 out of 3. Staffing constraints are so dire at many police departments that thousands of nonfatal shooting cases are never even assigned a detective. The shooters are left free to strike again, fueling cycles of violence and eroding the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Trace, in partnership with BuzzFeed News and later WTTW, published “Free to Shoot Again,” a series of stories that interrogates this failure in policing and the toll that it takes on the people who live in the communities most impacted by gun violence.
  • Las Vegas Review-Journal's Fight for Records

    The Las Vegas Review-Journal fought for and won access to vital public information in 2019, including police reports, investigative documents and lawsuits. And it took the fight all the way to the Nevada Legislature to do something our adversaries in the public sector thought was impossible: We helped strengthen the state’s previously toothless Public Records Act.
  • School Violence

    A young woman sexually assaulted, a grade-nine student “jumped” from behind, kicked in the head and left unconscious, another beaten in the hallway while students watched and recorded on their phones, Indigenous elementary students chased and in fear, a black student repeatedly attacked, called names and physically assaulted. All of these students bravely came forward, seeking help from those who are supposed to protect them - their teachers, principals and coaches. School should feel safe but for these students and thousands of others, school didn't feel safe anymore. Gaining the trust of these young people and telling their stories in a meaningful, empowering way became our goal. CBC’s months-long investigation also took a data-driven approach to document what many called a rise of violence in Canada’s schools. We gave a voice to more than 4,000 students through a groundbreaking survey while documenting a shocking lack of reporting, countrywide.
  • The Opioid Files

    The Opioid Files for the first time identified not only the counties flooded with the highest amount of prescription opioid pills at the height of the prescription drug crisis, but the specific manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies that were responsible for bringing those pills into communities. The Post found that over a seven-year period from 2006-2012, over 76 billion pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone were shipped to pharmacies across the country, more than enough for one pill per person in some communities. The Post also found that opioid death rates tracked with the rates of pills being shipped into those counties. And The Post identified counties and pharmacies with suspicious patterns and large amounts of pain pills. In making the data available by county- and pharmacy-level, The Post gave reporters from across the country the opportunity to write stories about their own communities and the impact that pills had on them.
  • Bargaining the Badge: How Hundreds of Accused Texas Officers Avoid Prison

    Across Texas, hundreds of law enforcement officers have permanently surrendered their peace officer licenses in the past four years. A KXAN investigation of 297 of those surrenders uncovered nearly all the officers were accused or charged with a crime – most often felonies. KXAN also found this system allows some bad officers to operate under the radar for years. Through internal police department and court records, KXAN found several cases of officers accused repeatedly of misconduct. In those instances, the accused police officers were able to trade their badges in a plea bargain and walk away with probation.
  • Free to Shoot Again

    In cities from coast to coast, the odds that a shooter will be brought to justice are abysmally low and dropping. Police make an arrest in fewer than half of the murders committed with firearms. If the victim survives being shot, the chance of arrest drops to 1 out of 3. Staffing constraints are so dire at many police departments that thousands of nonfatal shooting cases are never even assigned a detective. The shooters are left free to strike again, fueling cycles of violence and eroding the public’s trust in law enforcement. The Trace, in partnership with BuzzFeed News and later WTTW, published “Free to Shoot Again,” a series of stories that interrogates this failure in policing and the toll that it takes on the people who live in the communities most impacted by gun violence.