The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: May 13, 2019 (11:59 pm Eastern)

  • How FIJ Helped to Uncover the My Lai Massacre

    Seymour HershClick here to hear veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh tell how – with financial support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism – he learned about the massacre of civilians in Vietnam, how he tracked down Lt. William Calley and, in so doing, changed the world’s perception of American intervention in Southeast Asia. It demonstrates how small grants from our fund have enabled talented journalists to produce big, important stories, changing the course of history.


     

    Announcements from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and work from FIJ grant recipients

    FIJ awards 17 grants

    March 21st, 2019

    The Board of Directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) has awarded $99,800 for 17 grants to investigative journalists in its most recent round of funding.

    The grants will help investigative reporters cover the costs of reporting  work, such as travel, document fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

    The grant recipients are:

    Barbara Bernstein, a Portland, Oregon-based Independent radio producer,

    Jenifer Frank, a Hartford, Ct.-based freelance writer,

    Jimmie Briggs, a New York City-based author and journalist,

    Miranda Spivak, an independent journalist,

    Mardi Link, a northern Michigan- based journalist,

    Mark Betancourt, a DC-based multimedia journalist,

    Jim Morris, Acting CEO of the Center for Public Integrity,

    Max Blau, a journalist with The (Macon,Ga.) Telegraph,

    Rachel Cohen, a DC-based freelance journalist,

    Julia Harte, a DC-based investigative reporter,

    Angie Newsome, a journalist with the Carolina Public Press,

    Andrew Engelson, editor of Seattle’s Cascadia Magazine,

    Nicholas Chastril, a New Orleans-based freelance reporter,

    Daryl Kahn, a New York City-based reporter, documentary filmmaker,

    Clair MacDougall, a West Africa-based independent journalist,

    Robert McClure, a reporter with Seattle’s InvestigateWest.

    Trafficking documentary a finalist for Goldsmith Prize

    March 15th, 2019

    Congratulations to Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel! Their FRONTLINE project “Trafficked in America” was a finalist for this year’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting

    The story tells of Guatemalan teens forced to work on an Ohio egg farm, and exposes a criminal network that exploits undocumented minors, the companies that profit from forced labor, and the role of the U.S. Government.

    The documentary originally aired in April, 2018, on PBS.

    Ana Arana joins FIJ as Director of Operations

    March 13th, 2019

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) announced today that Ana Arana has been named Director of Operations.  Arana is an award-winning veteran investigative journalist and media trainer with experience covering international organized crime. She is the former director of Fundacion MEPI, a Mexico City investigative journalism project that carried out long-form U.S.-Mexico investigations from 2010-2015, pairing up with U.S. news outlets and Latin American news organizations. A former U.S. foreign correspondent who reported from Central America and Colombia for CBS News and The Miami Herald, Arana has worked most recently as a freelance journalist and editor.  She has received several awards for outstanding journalism, including a team award from the Online News Association, a Third Coast Audio Festival Silver Award, a Peabody and two Overseas Press Club awards, among others.

    “I am very excited that someone of Ana’s caliber is joining us,” said FIJ’s executive director, Sandy Bergo, in making the announcement. “Her proven track record mentoring young journalists is particularly valued. She will also bring new ideas and energy to the organization.”

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism helps fund groundbreaking investigative stories that otherwise would not be told. Founded in 1969, FIJ makes grants to independent investigative journalists who have great tips, ideas, and sources, but need financial resources to do their work.

    New investigations look deeper into deaths at ICE lockups

    March 6th, 2019

    Investigative reporter Robin Urevich has added four stories to her series Deadly Detention at Capital & Main. The series reveals both the politics behind and the life inside Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, and focuses on the often-preventable deaths that have occurred in ICE lockups.

    Her most recent stories cover the suicide of 40-year-old Efren de la Rosa at the Stewart Detention Center in Southwest Georgia last June, and the struggle to obtain the investigative documents that reveal how and why he died. These include a story on efforts by the private prison firm CoreCivic to convince the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to keep its investigation of de la Rosa’s death under wraps; a story on ICE’s most recent release of less-than-revealing reports on detention deaths; and a look at de la Rosa’s death and its eerie parallels to a death that occurred at the Stewart Detention Center a year earlier. 

    Urevich has more stories in the works for this series, so stay tuned.

    Illustration by Define Urban for Capital & Main

    Sweeping group home reform falters in California

    March 1st, 2019

    In 2010, California launched a pilot project to fix one of the most troubled aspects of the state’s foster care system: youth languishing in institutional group homes. They often struggle later in life with mental health issues, lower educational achievement and a higher risk of entering the criminal justice system. Plus, these youth are far more likely to exit foster care without a stable home.

    The project showed striking success at first. In Los Angeles County, home to the largest county-run child welfare system in the country, youth exited institutions and became rooted in family homes. And the project saved the county more than $7 million. This success inspired a massive child welfare reform effort in the state. The ideas in the project also made their way to federal group home reform legislation in 2018.

    But the larger promise of the project never arrived. Writing for The Chronicle of Social Change, Jeremy Loudenback looks at how California’s group home reforms deteriorated and what lies ahead for youth heading into adulthood after institutionalization.

    Jacob McCleary spent his high school years in a series of group homes. Now he is out. Photo by Jeremy Loudenback

    Stories of sexual assault by CBP agents against migrants

    February 27th, 2019

    In July 2016, two Guatemalan sisters left their small town and headed to the United States. They were fleeing growing insecurity and were eager to see their mother, who had moved to the US over a decade earlier.

    After crossing the border, the sisters were detained by two Border Patrol agents and taken to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) station in Presidio, Texas. There, according to their testimony, a Border Patrol agent sexually assaulted them. In 2018, the younger sister – a minor at the time of the alleged abuse – sued the United States.

    FIJ grant recipient and Radio Ambulante editor Silvia Viñas has been following this story and the legal case behind it for over a year. She found that complaints of sexual abuse by CBP agents are not isolated and outnumber internal investigations. And she discovered that although the agency claims to have a zero tolerance policy for sexual abuse and assault, it keeps details about this policy and its attempts to tackle the issue in the dark.

    Business districts target the homeless in Denver

    February 20th, 2019

    FIJ grant recipient Rob Waters looked at the growing influence of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in cities across the country, and how they are used to restrict homeless people from downtown areas. His investigative feature for Next City, No Place Left to Go: Business Districts Keep Homeless Populations on the Move, focused on Denver, where downtown business interests have long influenced development and management of the urban core. Redevelopment projects and “slum clearance” came first, followed now by the creation of BIDs, which collect property assessments and manage key aspects of public space. 

    Waters reports that an industry has grown up around BIDs, including contractors that provide private security “ambassadors” to patrol business districts. Some use a proprietary phone app that allows “ambassadors” to set up a Persons of Interest Database with entries for “panhandler, street performer, vendor, homeless individual.”

    In an earlier story in San Francisco Public Press, Waters looked at a report on California BIDs by law students at UC Berkeley School of Law.

    In response to an “urban camping” ban passed by the Denver city council, police broke up an encampment of people experiencing homelessness near Coors Field. Photo by Rob Waters

    Rats, roaches, bedbugs lead to Golden Mike Award

    February 15th, 2019

    Rina Palta, an FIJ grant recipient and correspondent on the investigative team at KPCC radio, has won a Golden Mike Award for Best Investigative Reporting from the Radio and TV News Association of Southern California.

    Her story, Rats, roaches, bedbugs, mold: Why thousands of LA’s homeless shelter beds sit empty each night, led the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to pass a new ordinance creating uniform standards for homeless shelters in the county.

    Palta’s initial FIJ-funded story revealed a patchwork oversight system that allowed safety and sanitation problems in homeless shelters – shelters usually run by non-profit and faith groups, but partially funded by the county.  While there are around 43,000 homeless people in L.A., only 16,000 shelter beds are available. Even so, shelters funded by the county’s Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority had only a 78-percent utilization rate, well below the 90 percent required by their contracts. Homeless people interviewed by Palta said that the sanitation and safety issues were main reasons they refused to stay in the shelters.

    Craig Aslin, originally from Virginia, stays in a tent in Hollywood, California. Photo by Susanica Tam for KPCC

    47,000 convictions dismissed so far in Massachusetts drug lab scandal

    February 15th, 2019

    Over the last two years, the state of Massachusetts has dismissed 47,000 drug convictions and guilty pleas due to two tampering scandals involving drug lab chemists. Many more convictions are likely to be dismissed, with the total expected to exceed 50,000.

    While the first scandal received more attention, mainly due to it being first and taking place in Boston, the second, centering on chemist Sonja Farak, may be worse, says FIJ grant recipient Shawn Musgrave. In a story for Reason, he writes that Farak’s crimes were compounded by prosecutorial misconduct that the state’s top court called “the deceptive withholding of exculpatory evidence by members of the Attorney General’s office.”

    Because of the combined tampering and prosecutor misconduct, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court dismissed thousands of cases Farak may never have even touched, including every conviction based on evidence processed at her lab from 2009 to the day of her arrest in 2013.

    Musgrave’s story reconstructs both scandals, and questions why a handful of prosecutors presided over one of the worst criminal justice failures in recent Massachusetts memory.

    Photo illustration by Reason.

    More funding, and a challenge grant

    February 5th, 2019

    FIJ is pleased to announce that the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, a long-standing supporter, has awarded $75,000 to support its grant-making program for domestic investigations in 2019. This amount includes $25,000 to be awarded if FIJ raises an additional $25,000 in new funding before December 31.

    Help us reach that matching goal – because, as always, all of it helps to fund even more watchdog journalism.