The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: Feb. 4, 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

    Trump, “small” businesses drive road through Alaskan refuge

    January 9th, 2019

    A year ago, the Trump administration approved a land swap allowing a road to be built through a remote national refuge in Alaska. The road was supposed to be a route for evacuating sick people from a small Aleut town. But an investigation revealed a little-known loophole in the agreement that allows for transport of millions of dollars of seafood.

    Grant recipient Jane Kay and photographer Ash Adams explore the impact of the road on wildlife and the people of King Cove in an article for Reveal.

    At the personal urging of President Trump, the Interior Department ignored two federal reports saying the road would harm irreplaceable, extraordinary wilderness and that patients could be transported via water instead. Interviews and documents obtained by Kay show that the intent of local leaders was to link its harbors to ship fresh fish. The agreement allows the road to be used by small businesses, which can sell tens of millions of dollars in seafood yet still qualify as “small.” Local leaders pushing for the road all own commercial fishing boats.

    Frosty Peak, more than a mile high, looms over Izembek Lagoon in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ash Adams for Reveal

    Reporter dodges restrictions to interview former Syrian Kurdish fighters

    January 9th, 2019

    In a story for The Intercept, Roy Gutman interviewed four Syrian deserters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who recounted recruitment at gunpoint; recruitment of child soldiers; jail terms for relationships with women; sending conscripts to the front lines; and conscripting family members to replace deserters. The PKK – an ally in the U.S. fight against ISIS in Syria – restricts media access, so Gutman interviewed the four in northern Iraq.

    The four also spoke of the PKK as a movement – one that is listed as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and E.U. They say its decades-long armed struggle for an independent state has not improved the lot of Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Reinforcing that thought is an interview with Osman Ocalan, the brother of the jailed leader of the PKK, and a founding member who also deserted the group, 15 years ago.

    PKK-led Syrian Democratic Forces forced this family to flee Jarablus in in advance of the American bombing in Raqqa, Syria. Photo by Roy Gutman

    New donations help fund FIJ’s mission

    December 13th, 2018

    The past two weeks have brought in three substantial funding grants for 2019.

    The Weissman Family Foundation donated $75,000 to again support FIJ reporting grants in the coming year.

    In addition, The Nara Fund donated $21,000. Of that, $6,000 is earmarked for continuing diversity outreach. Jonathan Ingbar, president of the Fund wrote, “All of us at The Nara Fund are inspired by the work that you do and we are honored to help support it, especially so at this time.”

    That money had the added benefit of fulfilling a $25,000 matching challenge grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

    And The Reva and David Logan Foundation – a long-time supporter – made a grant of $50,000 to fund even more reporting.

    The FIJ board and reporting grant recipients are deeply grateful, and hope that the generosity will continue flowing through the holiday season.

    FIJ Board changes

    December 11th, 2018

    FIJ is happy to announce two new board members, Alan Berlow and Anu Narayanswamy.

    Alan Berlow is a freelance reporter, a former foreign correspondent for NPR, and author of Dead Season, A Story of Murder and Revenge. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic and Harpers. Berlow has himself received two FIJ grants, in 1977 and 1991. He is a board member of the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation.

    Anu Narayanswamy is a data reporter for The Washington Post, working on the political enterprise team with a focus on money in politics and government accountability. She has previous investigative reporting experience both at the Center for Public Integrity and the Sunlight Foundation. Originally from Mumbai, India, she has a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia and is a member of the IRE/NICAR.

    At the same time, Doris Truong will be leaving the board after a three-year term. FIJ wishes her the best of luck as she continues as the director of training and diversity at the Poynter Institute.

    No easy options when leaving Salvadoran gangs

    December 4th, 2018

    In two stories for The Intercept, FIJ/Schuster Institute diversity fellow Danielle Mackey reports on the difficulty and politics of leaving criminal gangs in El Salvador.

    The first piece follows a 21-year-old who wants to retire after 10 years of murder and extortion with the gang Barrio 18. He hopes for a new life working with an evangelical Christian church. To his surprise, the gang lets him go, with conditions.

    Besides entanglements with their old gangs, former gang members are ostracized by society and are targeted by police and other gangs. There are about 60,000 gang members in El Salvador. Mackey asks, “What is the solution to this problem if they can’t retire?” This story was highlighted in the New York Times and Longreads.

    The second piece reports on a historic change in U.S. foreign policy toward El Salvador that allows aid money to be used to help people leave gangs. The unannounced policy shift happened after a years-long political battle fought in both Washington and the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador.

    A view of prisoners inside Apanteos prison, west of San Salvador, El Salvador. Photo by Salvador Meléndez/Revista Factum

    [FIJ thanks The Ford Foundation for providing the funding for this project.]

    Grant recipient investigates government contract “piggybacking”

    December 3rd, 2018

    Over five months, PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, investigated the use of “piggybacking” contracts used by city and county governments in the region. The practice allows some government officials to circumvent contract vetting processes by “piggybacking” on contract requests already approved by other agencies. Doing so can save governments time and money by avoiding negotiation and approval steps. But critics say the practice has led to higher costs for taxpayers and leaves government agencies vulnerable to fraud.

    According to data compiled by PublicSource from Pittsburgh’s contract repository, only 10 percent of 1,135 contracts that were active as of December 1, 2018, were actually negotiated by the city.

    City Controller Michael Lamb told PublicSource, “When you just automatically jump to these cooperative contracts rather than doing a local competitive process, I think you’re cheating taxpayers.”

    View of the City-County Building in Pittsburgh. Photo by Kat Procyk

    [FIJ thanks the Park Foundation and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation for providing the funding for this project.]

     

    FIJ Awards Eight Grants in Latest Round

    November 26th, 2018

    The Board of Directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) has awarded $67,810 for eight grants to nine 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:

    Sylvia Varnham O’Regan & Maddy Crowell, New York-based journalists

    Naveena Sadasivam, a journalist based in Austin, Texas

    David Armstrong, of the Georgia News Lab in Kennesaw, Georgia

    Burt Glass, a journalist from Boston

    Kira Zalan, a freelance reporter from Washington, D.C.

    Marc Perrusquia, a journalist based in Bartlett, Tennessee

    Victoria Mckenzie, an investigative journalist based in New York City

    Suman Naishadham, an independent journalist currently studying at the Missouri School of Journalism

    The deadline to apply for the next round of grants is February 4, 2019.

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism is an independent, non-profit organization that has supported public service reporting projects since 1969, when it provided funding for Seymour Hersh to investigate the massacre of civilians in My Lai during the Vietnam War. Since then, FIJ has supported the work of hundreds of reporters who have uncovered and published important investigative stories from across the United States and around the world.

     

    Report uncovers prison sex abuse, “rubber stamp” audits

    November 26th, 2018

    Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 to “prevent, detect, and respond to” sexual abuse in American prisons. Yet at least 11 lawsuits alleging criminal sexual abuse of inmates have been filed against former employees of New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women since 2015.

    So, when PREA auditors examined the prison in 2014 and 2016, how did it pass?

    This question is at the center of FIJ grant recipient Lauren Lee White’s story, “#MeToo Behind Bars: How Federal Investigators Are Ignoring Prison Sexual Assaults They Are Hired To Report,” the first in a series for WitnessLA.

    Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, calls one of the Edna Mahan audits a “rubber stamp.” It includes nearly verbatim passages found in at least 12 other audits of other facilities conducted between 2015 and 2018. Wright’s story explores this apparent failure of the PREA auditing system and shows how that affects incarcerated women across the country.

    View of the entrance to the L.A. County women’s jail. Photo by Lauren Lee White

    [FIJ thanks the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation for providing the funding for this project]

    Giving Thanks

    November 21st, 2018

    With gratitude for their moral and financial support, the board and staff of the Fund for Investigative Journalism would like to acknowledge the many individuals and organizations that have sustained the work of independent investigative reporters throughout the year.

    Major Supporters:

    The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation

    The Reva and David Logan Foundation

    The Weissman Family Foundation

    The Ford Foundation

    The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation

    craigslist Charitable Fund

    The Park Foundation

    The Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation

    The Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation

    The Nara Fund

    The Tides Foundation

    The Scripps Howard Foundation

    The Ardea Fund

    The Davis Family Charitable Fund

    Connie Rydberg and Nirav Kapadia

    Shari and Charles Pfleeger

    Sally Collier and Bob Caiola

    Irene Schmidt

    Mentors:

    Moriah Balingit

    David Biello

    Ryan Gabrielson

    Lottie Joiner

    Linda Jue

    Liz Lucas

    Robert McClure

    Craig McCoy

    Steven Rich

    Ricardo Sandoval Palos

    John Shiffman

    Cheryl W. Thompson

    Scott Zamost

    Melissa del Bosque

    Partners:

    Catalogue for Philanthropy – Greater Washington

    Investigative Reporters and Editors

    Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting

    Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University

    Society of Environmental Journalists

    The Marshall Project

    The Ida B. Wells Society

    Advisors:

    Eric Fingerhut, Pro Bono Attorney, Dykema

    Amy Christen, Pro Bono Attorney, Dykema

    Corey Wheaton, Pro Bono Attorney, Dykema

    Christopher Wilkinson, Pro Bono Attorney, Orrick

    Leigh Riddick, Pro Bono Financial Advisor, Kogod School of Business, American University

    Lisa Button

    Bobby Caina Calvan

    Bridget Gallagher

    Jamie Gold

    Jerry Redfern

    Beverly Orr

    Thanks to all!

    New book explores international corporate bribery, consequences

    November 16th, 2018

    Kickback, a new book by FIJ grant recipient David Montero, traces the ways that international corporate bribery foments poverty, violence, and environmental disaster around the world.

    The book notes a litany of foreign and domestic companies accused of bribery and kickbacks, both historically and today, from the British East India Company to the international conglomerate Siemens.

    One chapter explains how a history of ingrained bribery in Greece contributed to that country’s economic collapse. And an FIJ grant helped Montero complete reporting on a chapter documenting international pharmaceutical firms’ payoffs to gain market share in China.

    But a main point is that “corruption rarely stays ‘out there,’” Montero says.

    “Bribes eventually harm Americans, American society, American values, and American interests, both domestically and around the world, in ways that are difficult to gauge.”

    [FIJ thanks The Reva and David Logan Foundation for providing the funding for this project.]