The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: Sept. 24, 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern)

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning examination of rape expanded into a book

    T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong have expanded their Pulitzer Prize-winning story into a book, “A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America,” published by Crown in February. The book tells the story of Marie, an 18-year-old near Seattle, Washington, who reported being raped, only to be branded a liar by police. Miller and Armstrong first wrote about the case for ProPublica and The Marshall Project. The story was also a “This American Life” episode and will soon be an eight-part series on Netflix.

    [Funding for this project was provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation.]

    Investigation looks into the ‘environmental injustice’ of US prisons

    Earth Island Journal and Truthout spent more than a year on a collaborative reporting project investigating the links between mass incarceration, environmental degradation, and social justice. Using federal and state data gathered through FOIA requests, and on-the-ground reporting from prisons and prison-adjacent communities in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania, the “America’s ToxicPrisons” series revealed that from coast to coast, prisons, jails, and detention centers are exposing prisoners to environmental health hazards — through their siting on contaminated lands and hazardous locations, and their use of polluted drinking water. Often, not unlike factory farms, prisons themselves also become significant sources of pollution.

    Since the series was published, the Department of Justice withdrew plans to build a prison on a mountaintop-removal site in Kentucky, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to add prison locations to its online environmental justice mapping tool. What’s more, the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, citing the project,  sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting Bureau of Prisons Director Thomas Kane, to demand that the Justice Department investigate and remedy the conditions.

    [Funding for this project was provided by the Park Foundation.]

     

     

    Activists push rabbis to address ancient custom of ‘mamzerut’

    FIJ/Schuster Institute diversity fellow Michele Chabin focused on the desperate plight of families touched by mamzer status, the closest thing Judaism has to a class of untouchables. The status is passed down from generation to generation. Writing for New York Jewish Week, Chabin sheds light on why so-called mamzerim are sentenced to a life of secrecy and shame. While wars and migration once allowed most families touched by mamzerut to hide their status, the advent of the internet, digital recordkeeping and increasingly stringent rabbinical standards is making it more difficult to safeguard their secret. Those advocating for mamzerim say Judaism’s most influential rabbis lack the courage to find solutions to mamzerut.

    In photo courtesy of Nurit Jacobs-Yinon, an exhibit of “Mamzerim, Labeled and Erased” at the 2017 Jerusalem Biennale.

    [Funding for this project was provided by the Ford Foundation.]

    Faulty intelligence may have led to U.S. military operation that killed 10 Somali civilians

    Christina Goldbaum spent three months investigating a U.S. Special Forces-led operation in Bariire, Somalia and found compelling evidence that U.S. Special Operators fired upon and killed 10 civilians, including a child.  Goldbaum’s reporting for the Daily Beast showed that the decision to fire was partly based on information from notoriously untrustworthy sources and made despite concern from African Union Peacekeeping leadership. The story prompted U.S. Rep., D-California, to call for a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. counter-terrorism in Africa, using his time to discuss the Daily Beast investigation.  The Head of U.S. Africa Command requested the Defense Criminal Investigative Service open its own investigation into the operation. In an internal memo obtained by Goldbaum, the head of U.S. Specials Operations Command in Africa urged his troops to use greater caution and obtain high level approval for all ground operations.

    In photo by Christina Goldbaum, a Somali National Army soldier goes on foot patrol with African Union Peacekeeping Forces in Afgoye.

    [Funding for this project was provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation.]

    U.S. mining company disrupts lives of Ghanaian villagers

    When Colorado-based Newmont Mining arrived in the hills of Brong-Ahafo in Ghana in 2004, locals were optimistic that Africa’s second-largest gold producer would deliver lucrative jobs. But Sophia Jones, reporting for Sierra magazine, found that thousands of residents have been displaced by Newmont and its open-pit, cyanide-processing mine. Jones, an editor and reporter with the Fuller Project for International Reporting, and Accra-based photojournalist Ruth MacDowall say they discovered widespread abuses against the local population, including alleged sexual assaults. Farmers have been pushed out and their land destroyed. Jones writes that women bear the brunt of the physical, social and economic impacts of mining and some are battling Newmont for a return of their land and livelihood.

    In photo by Ruth MacDowall, Zeinabu Dawda regularly attends protests against Newmont. “I will persevere,” Dawda says. “I don’t fear anything.”

    [Funding for this project was provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation.]

    FIJ diversity fellow receives prestigious journalism prize

    Jaeah Lee, a member of FIJ’s inaugural class of diversity fellows, received the first American Mosaic Journalism Prize for her previous reporting and writing on gun violence.

    The award includes a $100,000 cash prize and recognizes Lee for work published by California Sunday Magazine, Vice and Mother Jones.

    Lee is currently completing her FIJ/Schuster Institute diversity fellowship project.

    Reminder: The next deadline to apply for a grant is Monday, Feb. 5. FIJ will award up to $10,000 for each grant, which can be used by freelance and independent investigative journalists for travel, acquiring documents and other reporting expenses. A select number of grant recipients will also be assigned mentors.

    Deadlines for two additional 2018 application rounds have also be set for May 7 in the spring and September 24 in the fall. (more…)