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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  • Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism: Countering Concussions

    Our series, "Countering Concussions," revealed that while the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a leader in studying concussions, some former football players are suffering from severe post-concussive symptoms that have prompted them to leave the game — and worry about their futures.
  • Tucson ministry a cult, former followers say

    An investigation by Arizona Daily Star reporters Carol Ann Alaimo and Emily Bregel revealed that a local ministry, Faith Christian Church, had for decades been aggressively recruiting members on the University of Arizona’s campus, leaving in its wake a trail of traumatized former members who describe the church as a cult. Their stories — told independently over weeks of reporting — were remarkably similar. They included reports of hitting infants who exhibit a “rebellious spirit,” financial coercion, alienation from parents, public shaming of members and shunning of those who leave the church or question its leaders. After leaving, some say they spent years in therapy for panic attacks, depression, flashbacks and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm”

    More than 75 years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law. A groundbreaking achievement in the fight against child labor, the FLSA banned children from mines and factories, while also granting the Secretary of Labor the authority to protect youth from working in any other hazardous occupations. This series on child labor in agriculture uncovers how loopholes in the law continue to put child farm workers as young as 12 at risk for grave illness, injury, and death. It shows how the agriculture lobby fought back in 2012, blocking new rules that would have closed these loopholes — and that children have died as a result. “Leaves of Poison” focuses on the use of children as young as 12 to harvest tobacco in Southern tobacco fields. Tobacco is a notoriously hazardous crop, exposing field workers to acute nicotine poisoning, with symptoms that can include dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and heart rate fluctuations requiring hospitalization. The plants are also sprayed with high doses of pesticides, which pose special dangers to adolescents whose nervous systems are still developing. These dangers have led countries such as Russia and Khazakstan to ban minors from tobacco work, and the United States has donated millions to eradicate child tobacco labor overseas. But a proposed rule by the Department of Labor banning children from the harvest (and other particularly “hazardous” tasks) was withdrawn by Obama administration officials in response to concerted lobbying by the American Farm Bureau. “Dying on the Farm” was an ambitious effort to track how many child laborers have died since those rules were scuttled in April 2012, which would have barred them from performing particularly “hazardous” tasks, such as harvesting tobacco, working in manure pits and grain silos, or using heavy power machinery. The investigation shows that child farmworkers “fall through the cracks” when it comes to government tallies of work-related injuries and deaths. Nevertheless, using FOI requests to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Workers’ Compensation offices, surveying local press clippings, and speaking with medical practitioners who work directly with farmworkers we found that at least four young farm workers-for-hire have been killed and 39 injured while doing these hazardous tasks since the rules were withdrawn. Both “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm” movingly tell the personal stories of young workers at a risk.
  • The F-22’s Fatal Flaws

    For more than a year and a half the Brian Ross Unit investigated the potentially deadly design flaws hidden in the crown jewel of the U.S. Air Force, the F-22 Raptor, the most expensive fighter plane in history. Digital reporter Lee Ferran and editor Mark Schone produced more than 30 web reports or blogs, starting with the story of the death of a gifted pilot and mid-air scares for dozens more, and then digging into the Pentagon’s dangerous policy of letting pilots fly planes it knew were broken. The Ross team uncovered a document showing the Air Force was aware of serious design flaws in its prize plane, and its web pieces questioned whether the service valued the reputation of a troubled $79 billion weapons system more than the safety of its airmen. Part of the investigation challenged the Air Force’s conclusion that the death of F-22 pilot Capt. Jeff Haney was his own fault. The Air Force blamed Haney even though his plane suffered a catastrophic malfunction just seconds before he crashed. The online series was so powerful that both “Nightline” and “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” asked the Ross team to prepare reports for broadcast as well. On May 2, 2012, in an exclusive interview that appeared both on-air and online, Haney’s sister, Jennifer, said that she suspected the Air Force was tarnishing her brother’s memory to keep heat off the flawed plane. After the ABC News online reports about the crash, the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office announced it planned to review the Air Force’s investigation – the first major crash review by the IG in more than a decade. For years, the Air Force had also been contending with another mysterious and possibly deadly flaw in the F-22 -- one that randomly caused pilots to experience symptoms of oxygen deprivation. It wasn’t until ABC News began asking questions, however, that Defense Secretary Panetta was forced to address the issue publicly. The Air Force repeatedly declined Ferran’s on-camera interview requests, but said it was his dogged attempts that pushed the service to give press briefings on the plane’s problems. Finally, the investigation uncovered a 12-year-old internal document that revealed the Air Force had long been aware of one of the plane’s potentially deadly design flaws but had neglected to fix it. In 2012, under public scrutiny inspired by the Ross team’s reporting, the Air Force addressed the flaw, and made another adjustment designed to protect pilots. Since then it has reported no further oxygen deprivation incidents.
  • Football Injuries-The Clay Rush Story

    The serious nature of concussion injuries that are commonly suffered in amateur, collegiate and professional sports is beginning to become clear to the medical and legal community. A fine example of that problem is former Colorado Crush Arena Football Player Clay Rush, who suffered several devastating injuries in professional play, with, what turned out to be woefully insufficient medical oversight. Clay now suffers from a traumatic brain injury and is unemployed. He lives with severe headaches, hyper-sensitivity to his environment, visual issues, dizziness, balance issues, and signs of decreased cognitive abilities. If Clay’s concussion had been managed properly by medical personnel, he would have healed with no lasting symptoms. He could have enjoyed life with his wife and two daughters. Instead, he lives his days in pain. His life has changed drastically, from football stud and family man to a man who struggles with a brain injury every day. We examine the work by his attorneys at the law firm of Fleishman and Shapiro to bring Clay Justice.
  • TAMIFLU-The Backstory of a Blockbuster

    This collaborative investigation between RSI (Swiss Italian Television) and CBC/Radio-Canada looks at how a "drug that reduces flu symptoms' duration by only one day can become a 10 billion dollar blockbuster stockpiled by governments around the world"
  • Weapon of Choice

    This series investigates the United States military's use of depleted uranium. The series reveals that some "54,567 soldiers said they had been exposed to depleted uranium sometimes or often". The symptoms of those exposed to this are vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and overall feelings of weakness. Furthermore, it has been known to bind to DNA, which can cause mutations and cell death.
  • Mental Anguish and the Military

    Army studies show that 20-25 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq show symptoms of serious mental health problems, including depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Government officials say that the military has programs to treat these soldiers, but National Public Radio's investigation at Colorado Springs' Fort Carson found that "these programs are not working." Soldiers who are desperate and suicidal even have trouble getting the necessary help. Furthermore, "evidence suggests that officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army." In the wake of the report, three senators - Barbara Boxer, Christopher Bond and Barack Obama - wrote a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs seeking clarification of the reports.
  • OC Helps Fuel the Toxic Waste Pipeline

    This article investigates how polluting companies, like National Cement Co, are not careful about eliminating toxic waste. Consequently, people who live near these companies suffer from headaches, nosebleeds and other symptoms. One of the major problems is burning solvents, because they are hard to destroy completely. Representatives from the companies say that burning chemicals and hazardous waste is a safer solution that using landfills -- this article shows that they might be wrong..and suggests reforms that might improve the situation.
  • "Memories, Dreams & Reflections: Living with Alzheimer's disease"

    Extensive coverage of Alzheimer's disease. Includes 14 stories of different lengths, about the disease and its symptoms and treatments; patient care; care for caregivers, and much more. Three stories tell personal experiences. Includes tips for spotting symptoms and story on the costs -- monetary and otherwise -- of Alzheimer's.