The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Application Deadline

    Monday Sept. 25, 2017 - 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.

    Supporting diversity in social justice investigative reporting

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism  and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University are accepting applications for a project designed to broaden opportunities for diverse journalists in independent investigative reporting. The initiative invites applications that will enhance opportunities for investigative reporting on social justice issues, with an emphasis on supporting women and journalists of color. Four independent, U.S.-based reporters with strong proposals to investigate significant systemic or social justice issues will be selected.  One of those will be chosen as a “Rising Star” who will also receive funding for mentorship support. Applications are now being accepted through Nov. 1, 2017.

    Investigations Raise Questions about State Lotteries

    August 23rd, 2017

    Massachusetts has more repeat lottery winners than any other state, and some are redeeming so many winning tickets that they’re raising questions about the integrity of the $5 billion state lottery. Massachusetts officials have long suspected that some frequent winners cash lottery tickets for others who don’t want to claim the money themselves because of taxes, child support or other debts, wrote Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, a visiting professor at Columbia last semester.

    The story was part of an analysis of nearly 11 million lottery records from 34 states by and students at Columbia University’s Graduate School.

    In Connecticut, a handful of big lottery winners show up again and again. A first-ever analysis of lottery winnings dating back to mid-1998, conducted by the Hartford Courant in collaboration with students at the Columbia journalism school, found 57 people who have won $1,000 or more at least 50 times.

    The projects in Massachusetts and Connecticut are part of an international investigation involving reporters from Africa, Europe and the United States.

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

    IRE conference provided an opportunity to learn and be part of journalism community

    August 9th, 2017

    Four of FIJ’s diversity fellows came from near and far to attend this year’s Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Phoenix this past June. For the fellows, it was more than just about learning new skills. It was also about being part of a community.

    FIJ Board President Ricardo Sandoval-Palos joined the FIJ/Schuster fellows for a reception.

    Michele Chabin traveled 6,000 miles from Jerusalem to attend the gathering.

    “Working from another continent, from a home office and not a newsroom, it’s easy to feel isolated,” Chabin said.

    She added: “How wonderful it was to network, to learn, through personal conversations and workshops, that others are dealing with the same challenges: the need to work faster due to the 24/7 social media news cycle; the importance of learning new technology (I didn’t know how to do customized searches on Facebook); and the value of maintaining relationships with sources even after the story has ended.”

    Chabin was a speaker at the conference, taking part on a panel about religious organizations – a key element of her research as an FIJ/Schuster Institute fellow.

    For Sonia Paul, conferences can sometimes be intimidating “for a freelance journalist like me whose reporting instincts have never quite fallen into any one particular journalism tribe… While attending this year’s IRE conference as an FIJ/Schuster fellow didn’t wholly resolve some of those issues, it certainly helped make me feel like I was part of a community.”

    Attending the conference, she said, also served as a painful reminder about how far the journalism industry has yet to go to become more diverse and inclusive.

    That reminder wasn’t lost on Stacy Thacker.

    “At just about every conference I’ve been to there is the diversity conversation but I could see some of those results in IR,” she said. “There were multiple stories of what IRE used to look like compared to now. I could even see it in my group, there were four Native American journalist at IRE, including me, and while we had a small number I was glad to see a number at all.”

    Thacker was grateful for an opportunity to take part on a panel focusing on coverage of Native America.

    Of course, there was a lot of learning going on, too. Lisa Armstrong, for one, discovered new research tools that she immediately put to use.

    “As an investigative journalist, it’s sometimes hard for me not just to find phone numbers but other information about sources who are often reluctant to talk,” Armstrong said.

    Online social media networks present a new trove of information, she said. One tool in particular, StalkScan, has provided her more powerful ways of harvesting information from Facebook that has allowed her to expand a network of possible sources.

    Earlier this year, FIJ sent three of the seven diversity fellows to the Logan Symposium hosted by the University of California, Berkeley.

     (In photo: Lisa Armstrong, far left, shared a photo of the group in Phoenix. She was joined by, left to right, Stacy Thacker, Michele Chabin, FIJ Board President Ricardo Sandoval Palos, Sonia Paul and Lottie Joiner.)

    Investigation reveals the reach of Big Pharma across Latin America

    August 7th, 2017

    An investigation led by Fabiola Torres on behalf of reveals the pressure exerted by pharmaceutical companies across Latin America to prolong their monopolies via diplomatic lobbying, court action and the use of the patent system to stifle competition. The result offers a glimpse at questionable practices that make it difficult for some of the region’s most vulnerable populations gain access to costly medicines. The investigation was a collaboration that brought together journalists from Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala and Colombia.

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Green Park Foundation.]

    Public defenders lose income as prosecutors divert traffic fines

    August 7th, 2017

    Prosecutors in Louisiana are diverting traffic fines to their coffers, depriving public defenders and other agencies of much-needed revenue. An investigation by Samantha Sunne on behalf of The Lens, shows that an increasing number of District Attorneys across the state are using a pre-trial diversion program to keep traffic fines for themselves. Ordinarily, traffic tickets go through the court system and the resulting fines are divided among several agencies. But the diversion program keeps the tickets from reaching the court system, which means the fines aren’t shared with other agencies such as public defenders offices, which are already underfunded and are losing a key source of income.


    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Park Foundation.]

    FIJ, Schuster Institute boost diversity in social justice investigative reporting

    July 24th, 2017

    Accepting Applications for 2018:

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University are accepting applications for a project designed to broaden opportunities for diverse journalists in independent investigative reporting. The initiative invites applications that will enhance opportunities for investigative reporting on social justice issues, with an emphasis on supporting women and people of color.

    Pioneered with support from the Ford Foundation, this is the second consecutive year that grants and matching fellowships will be offered to help journalists of diverse backgrounds — widely recognized as underrepresented in the ranks of U.S. independent investigative reporters — to report and write important stories about unreported or underreported social justice issues.

    Four independent, U.S.-based reporters with strong proposals to investigate significant systemic or social justice issues will be selected.  One of those will be chosen as a “Rising Star” who will also receive funding for mentorship support. Read the rest of this entry »

    Allegations of labor violations plague GMO industry

    July 16th, 2017

    A two-year investigation found that seed-corn companies like Monsanto use contractors to recruit thousands of migrant farm workers for producing hybrid corn seeds in an $11 billion industry. According to the investigation by Laird Townsend for the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, the use of contractors has led to repeated allegations of labor violations over the past decade against Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and their contractors — from broken recruiting promises and minimum-wage violations, to improperly withheld pay and substandard housing.

    (Photo by Alan Pogue/Texas Center for Documentary Photography: Marcilia Estrada Castillo reaches to pull off a tassel from an ear of corn on a detasseling job in 1981. Detasseling facilitates the production of hybrid corn. The practice has remained little changed for decades.)

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Park Foundation.]

    After overturned murder convictions, charges against new suspects rare

    July 14th, 2017

    Hella Winston examined 263 wrongful murder convictions for her piece published by the Daily Beast and found that prosecutors brought charges against a new suspect in just 7 percent of those cases. It’s partly because prosecutors don’t want to acknowledge their mistakes and the challenges they face in successfully prosecuting another suspect after an earlier conviction has been thrown out.

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Reva and David Logan Foundation.]

    Domestic abuse by police officers mostly hidden

    July 6th, 2017

    If domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes, domestic abuse by police officers is virtually an invisible one, according to compelling report by Melissa Jeltsen and Dana Liebelson for the Huffington Post. Because there are no government statistics, it is nearly impossible to calculate the frequency of domestic crimes committed by police—not least because victims are often reluctant to seek help from their abuser’s colleagues. A Cato Institute researcher they interviewed said that domestic violence is “the most common violent crime for which police officers are arrested.” And yet, most of the arrested officers appear to keep their jobs. Jeltsen and Liebelson spent months reporting out one particular case with two victims, shedding light on how officers can use their positions to facilitate abuse.

    (Graphic courtesy of the Huffington Post.)

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Park Foundation.]

    As rising tides roll in, developers help roll back regulations

    June 21st, 2017

    Pressure from real estate developers in the San Francisco Bay Area has undermined regulations meant to protect shoreline from rising sea levels, according to an investigation by the San Francisco Public Press. The landmark California Environmental Quality Act, a key tool for city planners, has faced successful legal challenges from industry. As a result, state regulations have loosened and local governments have been slow to react. In San Francisco and across the region, local officials continue to promote large coastal developments despite increasingly dire scenarios precipitated by greenhouse gases, the melting of the world’s glaciers and the increasing intensity of storms.

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by The Park Foundation.]

    Logan Symposium inspires FIJ/Schuster Institute fellows

    June 21st, 2017

    The Logan Symposium hosted in April by the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, provided some of our FIJ/Schuster Institute fellows an opportunity to meet and learn from some of investigative journalism’s best.

    For Linda Matchan, the symposium helped restore the “bounce” in her step and renewed her commitment to a discipline that, she said, can sometimes be discouraging because of “the many logistical and human obstacles that stand in the way” of stories.

    Like the other fellows, she learned immensely from the discussions led by some of the profession’s most celebrated talents.

    Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who recently won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was especially helpful in getting our fellows to think beyond traditional reporting and storytelling.

    Read the rest of this entry »