Articles about "Center for Investigative Reporting"

How CIR measured the impact of an investigative series

When Lindsay Green-Barber took a job as the at the Center for Investigative Reporting’s media impact analyst, she was struck by the difference between the way two stories were received.

Editorials and investigations followed Corey G. Johnson’s story about forced sterilizations in California prisons. But a CIR series called “Rape in the Fields” got a much quieter reception, despite airing on PBS and Univision.


Both stories “revealed injustices committed against women in vulnerable communities,” Green-Barber writes in a new report, her first case study for CIR, assessing “Rape in the Fields”‘ impact. (You can read the report below.) “Yet, the sterilization story appeared to be creating more of a national public outcry.” Then, she writes, “I had a bit of an aha moment: Spanish.”

I Googled the Spanish title of the documentary, “Violación de un Sueño,” and at the top of the results list was El Diario, the largest and oldest Spanish-language newspaper in New York City and the oldest Spanish-language daily in the U.S. There was media pickup as well as outrage and a public conversation about the series, but that activity was occurring primarily in Spanish.

“I’ve heard concern from reporters,” Green-Barber said in a phone call, that by studying impact “we’re going to limit the kinds of stories we’re going to do.” The question is really “who do we want to be talking about the reporting and why?”

“Impact is kind of a funny word for journalists,” Green-Barber said. “I think generating public debate or inserting new knowledge into a public debate is what journalism is there to do. “So I like talking about that because it’s less polemical than talking about impact.”

Green-Barber used qualitative data collected by a couple of different means, including a clippings service and an internal application that tracks mentions of CIR’s work, and conducted interviews with sources, people who attended a summit about the series and people who contacted Bernice Yeung, who reported “Rape in the Fields.” (Yeung wrote this past March about how difficult it was to track the series’ impact.)

The series had impact on several levels, Green-Barber found, not just splashy outcomes like a California state senate bill that would deny contractors’ licenses to companies who employed supervisors who harassed workers but smaller-scale outcomes like community organizers who read about the series on a Listserv and then organized screenings and discussions.

Political machinery moves slowly, she noted, even when an issue is clearly identified as a problem. “It’s not realistic to think they problem is going to be solved when you uncover it,” she said. “What you can actually know is are you affecting the way they talk about it.”

CIR report on the impact of "Rape in the Fields"

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CIR raises funds for investigation into ‘neighborhood NSA’

The Center for Investigative Reporting hopes to raise $25,000 to report on surveillance by local authorities, a practice speeded by technological improvements and federal money. Subscribers get benefits on a sliding scale — from a tote bag and a tour of CIR’s newsroom if you donate $350 to email alerts when new stories go up if you pledge $5 per month.

Beacon, which is handling fundraising for the series, refers to those alerts as “subscriptions,” but CIR spokesperson Lisa Cohen tells Poynter any stories that come from this project will be available on the CIR website, and “CIR will be working with partners as the stories warrant,” Cohen writes.

“During the past year, we’ve learned a lot about the federal government’s surveillance program, but we still know very little about how local police collect and mine data,” CIR reporter Amanda Pike says in a video accompanying the pitch.

If the project gets funded, CIR says it will use the money to secure public records, travel around the country reporting and “Create community engagement events where local citizens can learn about and debate the rise of surveillance.”

Last year, ProPublica raised $24,000 to help report on internships. ProPublica Community Editor Blair Hickman told Poynter the crowdfunding was an experiment somewhat at odds with the usual methods of funding investigative journalism: “With investigative stories you don’t often know where they will lead, but most crowdfunding is looking for very definite product to deliver,” Hickman said. Read more

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The story of women in Afghanistan ‘must be told’

Journalist Zoreh Soleimani on the right in Afghanistan. (CIR)

In 2011, Iranian photojournalist Zohreh Soleimani walked into the offices of the Center for Investigative Reporting with the story of a young Afghan woman.

Soleimani, then a fellow in the graduate journalism program at University of California, Berkley, first started reporting on the rights of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban fell in 2001. In 2011, she met Soheila, who was jailed for running away from an arranged marriage and having a relationship and a child with another man. The jail was filled with women in exactly the same circumstances.

Every year since, Soleimani has returned to the offices of the CIR with more footage, more stories of women in Afghanistan and more on the life of Soheila, whose father and brother pledged to kill her.

“Jailed for Love,” part of Soleimani’s story on Soheila, which has been guided along the way by CIR, airs Friday on PBS NewsHour. The 30-minute documentary Soleimani directed and produced in partnership with CIR, “To Kill a Sparrow,” premiers this weekend in Paris at the 2014 European Independent Film Festival.

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Guardian staffers win top IRE prize for NSA series


The Investigative Reporters & Editors medal for 2014 goes to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill and others for the Guardian’s reports on the NSA, which “revealed a story that continues to reverberate in the United States and across the globe,” the judges say. (Greenwald and Poitras now work for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media.)

ProPublica got a FOI Award for its series on revelations from government drug data.

In broadcast, New Orleans’ WVUE won for its “Body of Evidence” series, Los Angeles’ KNBC won for an investigation into bus safety and CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting won for their series on fraud at rehab clinics.

Swedish Radio beat stories by NPR, CIR and Minnesota Public Radio with a story that sounds like the plot of a Stieg Larsson novel but is, shockingly, true.

“The Girl Who Got Tied Down” is all too real: Sexually abused by her own father, only to face rape while in foster care by others. Her attackers included a senior police official who publicly proclaimed he was a “feminist.” The police chief was ultimately exposed and prosecuted in a high profile arrest. The story also focuses on a senior psychiatrist who personally profits from abandoning the girl. Drawing from the girl’s own recordings — including confrontations with staff who have ignored and neglected her — Daniel Velasco and Swedish Radio weave together a riveting story, powerful and revelatory. After the documentary aired, the psychiatrist was fired and his company lost its contract. But more important, the documentary commanded public attention to the plight of all children lost in a harsh system.

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ESPN wins duPont-Columbia award for football investigation

Columbia University

ESPN’s critical look at youth football “Outside the Lines: Youth Football Concerns” was among the winners of the 2014 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, which were announced Wednesday. From the awards list:

This important investigation added to the growing body of coverage about concussions and football with stories that graphically illustrated the problems and featured exclusive interviews with those involved in the controversies. ESPN’s reporting had an impact by identifying abuses and policy gaps as well as prompting an 18-month police investigation into corruption and gambling.

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New Vice series animates journalists’ stories

When Carrie Ching recorded Mimi Chakarova telling the story of how she posed as a prostitute to research her film, The Price of Sex, she turned the lights out. “I wanted it to feel really intimate. Like a confessional,” Ching said in an interview with Poynter.

Working in the dark “really helped” convey Chakarova’s story, Ching said. “I Posed as a Prostitute in a Turkish Brothel” is the first installment of her “Correspondent Confidential” series, produced in partnership with Vice, the hipster culture conglomerate, and it draws on some of the lessons Ching learned as multimedia producer at the Center for Investigative Reporting, which she left this past spring.

While there, Ching helped produce “In Jennifer’s Room,” a video that accompanied Ryan Gabrielson’s story about the abuse and rape of a mentally disabled former patient at the Sonoma Developmental Center in California. Using animation to tell a difficult story “makes it a little more digestible for viewers,” Ching told me when I interviewed her last November. “It doesn’t overwhelm them as much.” Read more


CIR rebrands California Watch, Bay Citizen

The Center for Investigative Reporting

Content from California Watch and The Bay Citizen will be published under the Center for Investigative Reporting brand beginning May 29, CIR’s executive director Robert J. Rosenthal announced Monday.

Initially, the different brands separated our national and international, California and local San Francisco Bay Area reporting. Over the past year, we have found that more of our stories transcend geography.

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Targeted by California Watch stories, a state institution loses license

California Watch
The California Department of Public Health revoked the operating license for the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, Calif., Ryan Gabrielson reports:

The action comes after a series of stories this year from California Watch documenting failures by the Office of Protective Services, an internal police force established specifically to protect and serve patients at these board-and-care centers. The police force has failed to perform basic tasks associated with crime investigations. In particular, the Sonoma center had evidence of a dozen sexual assaults but police investigators failed to order a single hospital-supervised examination for the alleged victims. Those reported assaults represent a third of the 36 documented cases of sexual abuse and molestation in the past four years at the state’s five developmental centers.

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Center for Investigative Reporting to curate investigative reporting on new YouTube channel

TechCrunch | Center for Investigative Reporting
The Center for Investigative Reporting will curate “The I-Files,” a new YouTube channel featuring investigative videos from partners such as Al Jazeera, The New York Times, and the 60 nonprofit news organizations that make up the Investigative News Network.

“The launch of the new investigative YouTube channel, The I Files, in association with INN, reflects CIR’s belief that collaboration and partnership are crucial to the sustainability of investigative, public service journalism,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of CIR. “There is enormous potential in finding new audiences to magnify the impact of all of the partners participating in The I Files.”

PEJ recently did a study of YouTube’s role in news consumption, writing:

The data reveal that a complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic “dialogue” many observers predicted would become the new journalism online. Citizens are creating their own videos about news and posting them. They are also actively sharing news videos produced by journalism professionals. And news organizations are taking advantage of citizen content and incorporating it into their journalism. Consumers, in turn, seem to be embracing the interplay in what they watch and share, creating a new kind of television news.

The Knight Foundation is providing $800,000 for the project.

To foster video-based student investigative reporting, CIR is holding a contest in which the public will vote on the top 10 videos. The winner will receive $2,500.

Related: News events occasionally outpace entertainment on YouTube Read more


Susanne Reber joins Center for Investigative Reporting after NPR departure

Center for Investigative Reporting
Last week’s memo announcing Susanne Reber’s departure from NPR, where she was deputy managing editor for investigations, didn’t say where she was headed. Tuesday, the Center for Investigative Reporting announced that Reber has been named senior coordinating editor for multiplatform projects and investigations. She’ll oversee its national, international and enterprise projects and will be in charge of its health and environment reporters.

The release from the Center for Investigative Reporting: Read more

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