The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: Sept. 23, 2019

  • Grantees’ Work

    California won’t prosecute all violators of data-privacy law

    June 19th, 2019

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says his office is ill-equipped to prosecute violations of the state’s landmark data-privacy law, which takes effect in January, the San Francisco Public Press reported. Only a handful of the most egregious cases will be prosecuted per year. Instead, he wants aggrieved consumers to take violators to court on their own. The story was the third part in a series on data privacy, “Your Data, Their Dollars,” online and in print editions of the Public Press this year.

    Stacey Schesser, supervising deputy attorney general on consumer protection, testifying at a state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in April in support of Senate Bill 561, which would give consumers the power to sue companies under the California Consumer Privacy Act. At left is committee chair Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Democrat from Santa Barbara, who sponsored the bill. Photo via California Senate

    FIJ Diversity Fellow featured at IRE Panel in Houston

    June 19th, 2019

    Angelika Albaladejo, a Fund for Investigative Journalism Diversity Fellow working with The Marshall Project, was featured in a panel at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Houston on June 13. The panel focused on how to report on people from marginalized communities.

    Albaladejo, who has a background in foreign policy, talked about her experience as a freelance journalist in Medellin, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she worked for two years focusing on social justice, crime, corruption, and security. She said she decided to go to Latin America to gather stories that “weren’t just about being a victim.”  She said she learned it was important to not expose her sources to harm, “that the story is not more important than their safety.”

    Albaladejo has been published by the Guardian, CNN, Splinter, the World Policy Journal and the British Medical Journal, among others.

    Albaladejo chats with a conference participant after her presentation. FIJ photo

    Is New York State’s Justice Center Just?

    May 30th, 2019

    The Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs investigates abuse and neglect in New York State facilities. But Alisa Partlan and Hella Winston found out the agency’s work procedures may be causing more harm to both residents and caregivers. They describe the Center’s flawed practices in their investigation Is the Justice Center just? published by City & State New York.

     

    Photo by Supawadee56/Shutterstock

    Guards and Medics Prey on Women Prisoners at LA County Jail

    May 7th, 2019

    At the Los Angeles County Century regional detention facility for women, former and current inmates say prison deputies submit prisoners to a range of sexual abuse acts—from overt assault to more subtle misconduct.   A recent federal audit found the jail, located in Lynwood, a small city adjacent to Compton and Watts, to be in violation of federal sexual safety laws, and found evidence of “serious and troubling allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”

    But in her story in The Guardian, The California Jail where Women Say Guards and Medics Preyed on them, which was also published by WitnessLA,  Lauren Lee White, describes an even more toxic abusive culture where guards and other officials promote subtler encounters and behavior: Prisoners who flirt get extra food, and others who engage in exhibitionism get more time outside their cells.  This behavior is harder to track than overt sexual assaults.

    Michele Infante says she was raped at Century regional detention facility in 2011. Photograph: Tobin Yelland

    Pulitzer Prize for book on fracking in Appalachia

    April 15th, 2019

    Congratulations to Eliza Griswold, who has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction for her book Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America. She received an FIJ grant to help her reporting on the health, economic and political costs that follow in the footsteps of the American fracking boom.

    The Pulitzer committee called the book “A classic American story, grippingly told, of an Appalachian family struggling to retain its middle class status in the shadow of destruction wreaked by corporate oil fracking.”

    Head Count: How many people died during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico?

    April 10th, 2019

    Radio Ambulante episode “Head Count” goes behind the scenes in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island on September 20, 2017. Ambulante’s reporters went to court to get the Puerto Rico government to release the mortality data.  The program brings to light how hundreds of victims, mostly elderly, died, not during the hurricane, but in the six months after the storm.

    The radio program was underwritten by the Ford Foundation, which sponsored the FIJ/Schuster Institute diversity fellowships.

    Seeking Conviction: Justice elusive for NC sexual assault survivors

    April 10th, 2019

    Justice is elusive for sexual assault survivors in North Carolina, according to Seeking Conviction, a  4 ½ year investigation of North Carolina court data by Carolina Public Press. The data project found that fewer than 1 in 4 sexual assault defendants in that time window were convicted, and that convictions were reached through plea deals and not through trials.

    The multimedia, data-driven investigative series, also found that during the years monitored, more than a third of North Carolina’s 100 counties had zero sexual assault or reduced-charge convictions.

    The low conviction rate may be due, in part, to two legal precedents in North Carolina. One says that it is not a crime to sexually assault someone who is incapacitated due to their own drinking or drug use. The other is unique to North Carolina, the only state in the nation where you cannot withdraw consent, meaning that if you change your mind after first giving consent, it is not considered a crime if you are then sexually assaulted.

    Seeking Conviction, is a multi-part investigative reporting project that CPP led in collaboration with 10 other news media partners around North Carolina.

    Samantha White survived a sexual assault when she was 16.  [Melissa Sue Gerrits/The Fayetteville Observer]

    Texas has a big dam problem

    April 1st, 2019

    For years, more than 7,000 small dams across Texas have gone unregulated or uninspected. Despite their size, many small dams are ticking time bombs, according to safety experts. And state data show that the rate of failure for these dams is increasing dramatically: Of the approximately 300 dam failures in Texas since 1910, half have occurred in the last nine years. The effects of climate change further compound the impact as increasing rainfall – particularly in the eastern half of the state – leaves more and more communities threatened.

    In Dammed to Fail in the Texas Observer, Naveena Sadasivam traces the history of a burgeoning crisis, one fueled by this lack of regulatory oversight and political will on the part of the Texas Legislature.

    In March 2016, floodwaters dug a 50-foot wide hole on the downstream end of this dam. Photo by Delos Dewayne Collins for the Texas Observer

    In California, new legislation may disrupt the disruptors

    March 28th, 2019

    In November, San Franciscans voted to amend their city charter to add data protection guidelines for city entities, contractors, businesses and individuals. Since then, city supervisors have introduced legislation to restrict or ban the use of most surveillance and facial recognition technology in the city. But the most controversial aspect proposes being able to use online services in San Francisco without providing any personal details.

    Writing in the San Francisco Public Press, Andrew Stelzer explores the quickly evolving regulatory environment around digital privacy in California, and in particular looks at the proposed changes in San Francisco.

    City leaders have made bold, but so far not very specific, claims about their ability to limit the personal-information free-for-all that is at the heart of the business model for data brokers, many startups, and other digital enterprises.

    Those proposals are potentially disruptive to a tech industry that reaps riches from “disruption.” And critics warn that aggressive regulations could chase data mining companies out of San Francisco, or into the courts to battle regulators.

    Illustration by Reid Brown for San Francisco Public Press

    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.