July 8, 2009
SEATTLE – InvestigateWest launches today to provide high-quality investigative journalism about environmental, health and social justice issues across the West.
InvestigateWest is a nonprofit investigative journalism studio that will distribute its work online, in print and on radio and TV stations. InvestigateWest will distribute its multimedia content through individual partnerships with media organizations and through its own syndicated service.
“InvestigateWest is a new model of public service journalism that seeks to fill the void rapidly developing in investigative coverage,” InvestigateWest Executive Director and Editor Rita Hibbard said. “Our goal is to produce journalism that empowers citizens and changes institutions. We will measure our success by the impact of our stories.”
Hibbard noted the recent closure of four daily Western newspapers in Seattle, Denver, Tucson and Albuquerque, and the loss of thousands of other jobs at remaining news organizations. “It’s a time of great challenge in the news industry,” she said. “But it’s also a time to be creative and try new approaches.”
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) to conduct journalism for the public trust, InvestigateWest last week became a founding member of the nonprofit Investigative News Network aligning more than 25 investigative news organizations. Funding strategies, news distribution and administrative costs could be pooled among partners like the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and newer ventures such as the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison.
InvestigateWest has received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, in-kind contributions from major firms, including the K&L Gates law firm and Point B Solutions Group in Seattle, and donations from individual donors, and is actively fundraising from individuals and foundations. Our journalists are already reporting a number of stories for which we are developing media partnerships and seeking funding. Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation can send donations to InvestigateWest at 600 N. 36th St., Suite 316, Seattle, WA, 98103.
InvestigateWest adheres to the high standards of objectivity and accuracy that have always informed the Fourth Estate: integrity, fairness and an independent quest for truth.
“Across the country, there has been a decline in newsroom staff and resources for investigative reporting,” said Brant Houston, an InvestigateWest advisory board member and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois. “InvestigateWest can help fill that growing gap of in-depth public service journalism. Endeavors like this are critical to the functioning of a democratic society.”
“The news ecology is fragmenting, and the first thing that seems to be going in organizations is to spend money, time and thinking power on the issues that are really important to the communities they serve,” said Vikki Porter, an InvestigateWest advisory board member and director of the Knight Digital Media Center. “New models are needed to keep the spirit of watchdog journalism alive. Despite what’s happening in the industry as a whole and in the profession as a whole, this is the perfect time for this kind of venture.”
InvestigateWest staffers have won or been finalists for every significant national journalism award for investigative and narrative work, including the Pulitzer Prize, the White House Correspondents’ Association Edgar A. Poe Award, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, Best of the West and the PEN literary award.
In addition to its core group of six journalists, InvestigateWest is establishing a network of correspondents throughout the West. These freelancers will serve as listening posts as well as producers of innovative, insightful journalism. In addition, a panel of nationally distinguished journalists has agreed to serve on the venture’s advisory board. InvestigateWest has also begun an internship program this summer with two Western Washington University journalism students.
Westerners have always relied on a rich tradition of storytelling. At InvestigateWest, we plan to tell the story of the West for the 21st century.
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.