InvestigateWest offers a new ‘studio’ model for watchdog journalism that enriches our community. We invest in original reporting — on public health, the environment, and government accountability — and produce powerful stories with a clear bearing on public policy.
As a partner to commercial media and public broadcasters, we reach a diverse public and increase the capacity for fact-based reporting in our region.
Our nonprofit mission is to strengthen communities, engage citizens in civic life, and help set the policy agenda in the Northwest by producing powerful, independent investigative and explanatory journalism.
How we work
InvestigateWest was founded in 2009 after the close of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. In the five years since, we have worked to establish a nonprofit model for public-service journalism where none existed before, publishing more than three dozen stories last year that were read, watched or listened to nearly 3.8 million times.
We focus on the environment, public health, and government accountability. We publish original stories that equip the public to participate in our democracy and allow other news outlets to pursue consequential journalism. In 2013, we worked with reporters and editors in more than a dozen newsrooms.
The case for support
For a century, nearly all the original reporting in the U.S. happened at newspapers. Then starting in 2008, an estimated $4 billion disappeared from newsroom payrolls — including more than 1,500 newspaper jobs in the Pacific Northwest.
Against that backdrop InvestigateWest is pioneering a powerful new journalism studio model to educate and equip the public on consequential issues. We participate in bold ideas to create a new market for investigative journalism and we are asking for public investment to help us grow.
InvestigateWest’s revenue comes from individual philanthropy, foundation grants, and program income, including content licensing fees.
Impact and awards
Since 2009, InvestigateWest's journalism has directly led to a healthier, safer and more transparent Pacific Northwest, including two first-in-the-nation state laws to protect the environment and workers' health.
Our journalism has also won nearly three-dozen state, regional and national journalism awards since we began publishing. Our work and our staff have been honored for exceptional reporting, technical innovation, and creative storytelling.
Equal Justice | December 2014
With grand jury reform elsewhere focused on eliminating racial bias and curbing police use of force, Oregon is an outlier: It is one of just 14 states that do not regularly record the citizen grand juries that charge people with felonies.
Almost five years after police killed an unarmed black man in Portland and the Multnomah Co. district attorney petitioned for that grand jury to be recorded, lawmakers in Salem are lining up behind a reform bill to mandate recording statewide, InvestigateWest has learned.
Seafood | December 2014
A struggle in Alaska over shrinking supplies of halibut is threatening the iconic centerpiece fish in favor of cheaper exports, fast-food fillets and fish sticks.
At risk is most of the frozen supply that sustains restaurants, food-service companies and retail stores nationwide, such as Costco and Whole Foods. Lee van der Voo investigates.
Photo: Peter Haley / The News Tribune
Environment | November 2014
It will take hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up the Duwamish River. But how clean is clean? And who decides?
Robert McClure looks at how lobbyists and community groups have squared off over the health of the waterway and its neighborhoods.
Photo: Paul Joseph Brown/ecosystemphoto.com
Trafficking | October 2014
Authorities say organized gangs increasingly are trafficking children for sex in the Northwest, and even cooperating with each other to stymie police.
Meanwhile in Portland, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has become the third most prolific nationally in securing indictments for trafficking children and adults for sex.
Photo: Oregon DOT/Flickr
Minimum Wage | August 2014
"Everyone is aware that passing a $15 an hour minimum wage was historic," an advisor to Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council told InvestigateWest. "But if we cannot enforce that, we haven't accomplished much."
Based on a review of more than 20,000 wage theft complaints, hundreds of pages of reports and more than a dozen interviews, "Stolen Wages" shines a light on the dark world of pay violations in Seattle and across Washington.
Infrastructure | May 2014
Party politics have thwarted bridge safety improvements, and an investigation drags on to decide how the trucking company, its escort car and the state may share blame. Yet a new mapping tool for truckers may offer hope, Jason Alcorn reports.
Infrastructure | May 2014
Portable, modular or relocatable classrooms — whatever you call them — are a necessity for cash-strapped schools.
But many portables become permanent fixtures, in place for decades at a time. Costly and insufficient, these aging structures burden the grid, frustrate teachers and administrators and compromise student health.
Environment | April 2014
Energizing our world with wood sounds so natural. And it has quickly become a multibillion-dollar industry as governments including British Columbia and the European Union turn to biomass to replace dirty old coal. Yet what we found when we dug into the coal-vs.-wood debate will surprise you.
Public Health | April 2014
We update our 2013 series on Washington’s estimated fish consumption rate with news of a private meeting where Gov. Jay Inslee and his advisers wrestled with how much to protect business versus consumers when it comes to water pollution in the fish we eat.
Consumer Safety | April 2014
Manufacturers put a warning sticker on every ATV sold: The vehicles aren't meant for roads. But a push to allow just that is rolling out across the country. Washington and three other states passed new laws in 2013, among 22 states to allow or expand ATV access to roads since 2004.
Wealth & Poverty | December 2013
It's the unexpected catch in catch-share programs: A federal program that was supposed to help preserve and enhance the fishing economy in Kake, Alaska, has instead helped cause a severe decline. Meanwhile, 50 miles southeast, the town of Petersburg is booming.
The third part in our trilogy of fish stories examines the consequences catch-share policy where it was born, even as the model has been established in 14 other U.S. fisheries, encompassing dozens of species ranging from New England scallops to Pacific sole.
Public Health | September 2013
Of the roughly 50,000 kids who will attend Seattle schools this fall, nearly 2,000 will hit the books in classrooms within 500 feet of Interstate 5, InvestigateWest has found. This despite a body of evidence dating back decades that highway air pollution can cause lifelong respiratory problems and asthma attacks and boost school absenteeism.
From Seattle to Spokane, what can be done to make sure schools are healthy places for kids?
Photo: John Marshall JHS, 1963. SPSA 108-97.