Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University


Welcoming international journalists

The Investigative Reporting Workshop welcomed journalists from around the globe at last week’s Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference, co-sponsoring a luncheon for international journalists. The Friday lunch, co-sponsored by IRW and the Global Investigative Journalism Network, brought together journalists from nearly 30 countries, said Stephanie Klimstra, IRE’s director...

TAP data helped reveal WhatsApp story

Records from IRW’s Accountability Project led reporters from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency down an investigative rabbit-hole, enabling them to elucidate the finances of Jan Koum. Koum, the famously reclusive WhatsApp founder, has “quietly become one of the largest donors to Jewish causes in the world,” JTA reporter Asaf Shalev found in a data-driven investigation.

Career satisfaction high among journalists, but industry-wide concerns remain

Most of the 12,000 surveyed U.S.-based journalists are happy with their jobs. But worries about misinformation, partisanship and online harassment remain, according to a recent survey. Most journalists are happy with their jobs. But the majority of U.S.-based journalists also recognize the wide-ranging challenges facing the press, from the proliferation...

Washington Post wins Pulitzer for Public Service

The Washington Post received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service May 9 for “The Attack,” a series of stories produced by more than 100 staffers about the events leading up to, during and following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Graduate students working in the Post practicum under John Sullivan — a reporter at the Post and editor at IRW — received contributing reporting credit in the series, and played a key role in the overall coverage of the attack. For more than a year, students also have populated and maintained a database tracking all the Capitol rioters and their legal cases. A shout-out to American University grad students McKenzie Beard, Caroline Cliona Boyle, Heather MacNeil, Aneeta Mathur-Ashton, Vanessa Montalbano, Megan Ruggles, Nick Trombola and Carley Welch.

‘The Hit’: New investigative doc

“The Hit,” a feature-length investigative documentary created by IRW’s Chris Halsne, continues to gain attention on the film-festival circuit. The documentary premiered at the Landmark E Street Theater in March after being awarded top film in the Best of Metro D.C. category. Judges also named the documentary as an official selection of the Northern Virginia Film and Music Festival (NOVA) and the New Jersey Documentary Film Festival. The next public showing of the film is scheduled for May 14 in Sparta, New Jersey.

Getting help with data

The Accountability Project now includes the Security and Exchange Commission’s list of active broker-dealers from March 2007 to April 2022. The brokers and dealers on the list are those in the business of buying and selling securities on their own or on behalf of others. They are required to register with the SEC and join a self-regulatory organization such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

TAP data can help

The National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting held its annual conference in Atlanta last weekend, the first in-person conference since the March 2020 conference in New Orleans. Staff from the Investigative Reporting Workshop ran a demo of the Accountability Project and its search tool. If you didn’t make it to the presentation, slides are available here.

Internships open

The Investigative Reporting Workshop, an independent, nonprofit news organization based at American University, is looking for smart, engaged college students and recent graduates from around the country for internships in the summer of 2022. Positions include researchers/reporters, data journalists, videographers, graphic designers and web producers. Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply. Preferred majors include journalism, communication, film, public policy, public health, history and economics.

Climate, health top our 2021 coverage

Our environmental and health coverage continued in 2021, a year in which our reporters were in the field with new partners to bring you stories from water problems in Louisiana to nursing-home shortages in Maine. One of our last stories of 2021 was an in-depth look at why childhood cancer cases have climbed, despite fewer deaths and better treatment. We found many experts who blame toxins in the environment and bemoan the lack of funding for drug development focused on children.

Staff changes

One of our recent stories with longstanding partner The Washington Post looked at the 50 most valuable public companies, many of which tried in the last year to build more inclusive workplaces. The investigation found that Black employees still represent a fraction of those in the top ranks who report directly to CEOs. And the Post’s Tracy Jan reveals that diversity officers often lack the money or authority to institute real change. The story was based on an extensive survey of those companies by students in the School of Communication’s graduate practicum at the Post, run by IRW Senior Editor John Sullivan.

Data to help track the pandemic

With COVID-19 cases spiking faster than testing can keep up with, a more useful metric in tracking the pandemic may be how full hospitals are. The Accountability Project runs a number of “datasettes” intended to make the federal data on hospitalization (by hospital, updated weekly, or by state, updated daily) more easy to use, with “canned queries,” basic charting, and the opportunity to write your own SQL.

Watching immigration changes under Biden

The Investigative Reporting Workshop continues tracking immigration policy changes, executive orders and court decisions made by and during the Biden administration in an interactive timeline. President Joe Biden, who entered the White House with a promise to tackle major, unsolved immigration challenges, has faced several additional hurdles during his first...

INN honors Lewis with lifetime achievement award

Investigative Reporting Workshop Founder and Executive Editor Charles Lewis received the inaugural Nonprofit News Lifetime Achievement Award in an Oct. 13 ceremony. The award, presented by the Institute for Nonprofit News, honors an individual who has made significant, innovative and lasting contributions to the field of independent, nonprofit news. Lewis,...