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!
Forests and the Economy | May 2015
Environmentalists and the timber industry — once bitter adversaries — are working as allies on forest restoration. Collaborative forest thinning projects aim to fight megafires before they start — but money is scarce and tens of thousands of acres acres in Oregon now face an elevated risk of catastrophic fire. Ben DeJarnette reports for InvestigateWest.
Equity | April 2015
Cash reigns in the Portland housing market. The city faces pressure from a new kind of speculation, as investors buy thousands of homes with cash and long-established protections for bank-financed homebuyers are ignored. Lee van der Voo and James Gordon report for InvestigateWest.
Wealth and Poverty | March 2015
March 2015 marks the anniversary of a bold promise: King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness. Now that the 10-year plan is ending and local homelessness is worse than ever, talk of ending homelessness is being replaced with less-lofty aspirations: making homelessness rare and brief when it does occur.
In collaboration with KUOW this week, we examine the roots of the plan, the challenges it faced, and where community and city leaders think we go from here.
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
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.