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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  • Could Sandy Hill Have Been Saved?

    This series looked at why fire-and-rescue workers were unable to save a woman trapped inside her home even though she was on the phone with a dispatcher giving directions to her upstairs bedroom. The reporting found that volunteers who responded that night did not use thermal imaging equipment that could have helped them find the victim, Sandy Hill; that they did not place a ladder at either of the windows in her bedroom; that they were slow to ventilate the house and remove the smoke that killed her; and that they did not question people who had escaped the house about her location. Additional reporting exposed systemic weaknesses in Spotsylvania's fire-and-rescue services, which rely on self-governing volunteer departments and a smaller number of career personnel hired and directed by the county. These weaknesses include a poorly structured chain of command, lack of communication, insufficient training for man volunteers, and a failure to enforce existing regulations due in large part to friction between the career and volunteer units.
  • Medicating the Military

    The stories looked at the nature and scope of the use of prescription drugs in the military community, with a focus on psychiatric medications and painkillers. The reporting found that use of psychiatric medications has risen dramatically in the past several years and some doctors suggest it may be a factor in the military's suicide epidemic of recent years. Reporters found that many psychiatric drugs - including powerful anti-convulsants and anti-psychotic medications - were being used "off label", or in ways not formally approved by the FDA. Reporters found that many troops were taking up to 10 medications at a time in so-called drug cocktails that experts say are untested and unproven in these combinations. Reporters also found that deaths caused by accidental drug overdoses had tripled during the past several years and that the Army's specialty care units were quietly conducting internal investigations and making significant changes to hospital protocols to reduce risk of accidental deaths. Finally, they found that psychiatric drug usage was also up significantly among military children.
  • Air Ambulances

    A Fort Worth physician who was a medical director for several local EMS units was also employed by a "for-profit air ambulance service." Under his direction the EMS units began using his company's helicopters, even when they weren't the closest ones to the scene.
  • Timeshares: No Matter How You Slice Them, Buyers Pay a Price

    With major corporations now involved, timeshare buyers face "high-pressure sales tactics, expensive financing, convoluted reservation systems, volatile and steep annual fees and questionable management and a dismal resale market in which owners virtually must give away their units in order to get rid of them." Even as major lawsuits have been field in recent years on behalf of timeshare buyers, "most states do little to regulate the industry and ensure that timeshare units are accurately represented and that the reservation systems are fairly administered."
  • Lost Among the Ruins

    With at least 100,000 apartment units and more than 500,000 people, "the D.C. Attorney general's office "has prosecuted only four landlords for housing-code violations since 2001, or less than one case per year." In addition, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs "had no agency-wide process for collecting fines and is owed more than $8.8 million in outstanding fines and penalties in more than 22,000 housing-violation cases." The Legal Times touches on these issues, as well as the story of convicted slumlord David Nuyen, "who is still renting apartment units in D.C. despite a court order for him to get out of the rental business."
  • The Wexford Files

    To save money on its contract with the New Mexico state corrections department, Wexford Health Sources cut costs and provided poor health care to inmates. In the wake of Wexford's cost-cutting, "chronically sick inmates were routinely refused off-site specialty visits. Other inmates waited for days, even weeks, to receive critical prescription drug renewals. Still other inmates were forced to lie in their own feces because basic supplies, like bed sheets, were in such short order." In addition, staffing was a problem in prison medical units due to Wexford not filling vacant positions as yet another means of cost-cutting. In the end, people ranging from "Wexford's top medical officers in New Mexico to nurses and administrative employees" resigned as a result of the effect of the company's belt-tightening on their ability to help patients.
  • Dumping Grounds?; Just Moving On; Six More Years

    "The Chicago Housing Authority will spend $1.6 billion on its 'Plan for Transformation'- a 10-year urban reform plan to destroy and tear-down more than 38,000 units of high-rise public housing and rebuild vibrant condo-style mixed-income housing in its place. Yet seven years into the plan, the authority has only built 1,600 replacement units of a promised 6,000 in mixed-income condos."
  • Subsidizing Failure

    The Tribune analyzed inspection records of housing units rented to recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers and found widespread failure. They discovered that 6,000 Chicago landlords who receive Section 8 funds failed the majority of inspections of their properties. These violations led to thousands of evictions of tenants who were not responsible for the substandard conditions of their apartments.
  • Rural Gangs Series

    This investigation showed the spread of big-city gang activity into rural areas and small towns. After 9/11, many local anti-gang units were cut in favor of counter-terrorism forces. Consequently, gangs are growing and there is little resistance. The investigation focuses specifically on gang activity in Durham, North Carolina.
  • Under-equipping the National Guard

    This story deals with an inadequacy of the equipment in the Chinook helicopters. This story was published soon after one of these helicopters was gunned down in Iraq. The question that this reporter raises is whether the National Guard units are as prepared and have the same counter offenses as the Army. The story also reveals that 18 months before this incident the National Guard officials had noticed the dearth of essential equipment.