The power of regional investigative reporting
May 11, 2011
We have good news about the news business to share. Our work makes a difference!
InvestigateWest's groundbreaking story on the hazards of chemotherapy exposure for health care workers has resulted in the passage of two laws improving worker safety in Washington state, signed by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire in April. One of the laws establishes an occupational cancer registry in the state, and the other regulates better regulates toxic compounds, including chemo drugs, in the workplace. That story first appeared on our web site, on msnbc.com, The Seattle Times and in a documentary we co-produced with KCTS 9.
In addition, a measure banning toxic pavement sealants also was signed into law by the governor. That effort came after InvestigateWest wrote about the issue just over a year ago. With the governor's signature, Washington state became the first state in the nation to ban the sealants, joining a handful of smaller governments across the nation that have taken similar steps. That work appeared on our web site and on msnbc.com.
That's direct, important change because of the work of InvestigateWest journalists. And that's an amazing record for any news organization, particularly a new, nonprofit news organization! Since our launch two years ago, our work has appeared in a variety of regional and national news organizations, including public radio and television, commercial television, regional newspapers, national and regional online news sites, ethnic media and more.
Our journalists are veterans, with established, award-winning records. InvestigateWest was founded with the closure of the print Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and is dedicated to public-service journalism that makes a difference. Judging by these results, it's working!
We haven't rested on our laurels.
In recent months, our journalists have covered a wide range of issues, from rain gardens in Seattle, to campus sexual assault in Portland, to the health of neighborhood residents living along the Duwamish Superfund site, to regional air safety across the skies of Washington. Our recent work has appeared in The Oregonian, Seattlepi.com, Crosscut, King 5 TV, KUOW, The Seattle Times and The Spokesman-Review.
We also convened a community conversation in March about stormwater, the biggest pollution threat to Puget Sound, by co-hosting a public forum and panel discussion in Olympia. We gathered more than 70 people in a standing-room-only lunchroom crowd in Olympia for the discussion, co-sponsored by the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, and the Sightline Institute, a liberal think tank.
"We saw it as a great opportunity for two think tanks from the opposite sides of the table to have a discussion on stormwater," Brandon Housekeeper, an environmental-policy analyst with the Washington Policy Center, told The Olympian newspaper, which covered the session. "The discussion isn't meant to move legislation in one direction or another."
We're excited that our work brings needed change and civic debate, and we appreciate your support helping us do this important journalism!
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.
Foster Care | November 2013
State law now allows more kids to stay in foster care for an extra three years — until age 21. But many either refuse the help, or fail to qualify for it.
An investigation by KUOW in collaboration with InvestigateWest looks at why this transition to adulthood is trickier than expected – for foster kids, and for the state.
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.