Changes at InvestigateWest

InvestigateWest is announcing some exciting new changes!With the departure next month of Executive Director and Editor Rita Hibbard, the InvestigateWest board is pleased to announce the Robert McClure, a co-founder as well as an award-winning environmental journalist, is succeeding Hibbard as acting Executive Director.At the same time, Carol Smith, a co-founder and acclaimed social issues and health journalist, is moving into the role of acting Executive Editor.“Robert will guide a growing, stable and exciting news organization into its next phase,” said Hibbard, who is leaving to pursue other projects long put on hold by the demands of a thriving nonprofit newsroom. “As a co-founder, he profoundly understands the importance of what we do, and is in a great position to push it forward.”InvestigateWest is an independent, nonprofit investigative news organization founded in 2009 and based in Seattle. It is staffed by journalists with a track record of producing in-depth stories that produce change in public policy and practice.  It has received funding from both national and regional foundations.InvestigateWest’s work resulted in three laws passed by the state Legislature in 2011, including two establishing worker safety and health rules after the publication of a story linking exposure of chemotherapy drugs to illness and death among health care workers, and another banning carcinogenic pavement sealant after InvestigateWest wrote about their widespread use. “Carol also will bring her investigative and narrative skills to the fore in her new role,” said Hibbard, who has been at the helm since InvestigateWest’s launch. “She’s a wonderful writer and journalist who will contribute hugely to the new organizational structure.”

InvestigateWest and KCTS 9 co-produce “Breathing Uneasy,” a look at the air pollution crisis in South Seattle

“Breathing Uneasy” is the result of a collaboration between InvestigateWest and KCTS 9. Veteran environmental reporters Robert McClure of InvestigateWest and Jenny Cunningham of KCTS 9 spent six months examining the impact of truck traffic on the communities that border the Port of Seattle, an area that new studies say has some of the worst air in the state. Their stories detail how toxic emissions from diesel trucks endanger residents of some of Seattle’s poorest communities, but also contain lessons and implications for any area dealing with major roadway traffic near schools and residential neighborhoods.In addition, McClure and Cunningham examine how Port of Seattle Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani helped oppose changes in legislation that would have made trucks cleaner, despite his promise to make Seattle the “cleanest, greenest, most energy-efficient port in the U.S.”A special report on air pollution, co-produced by InvestigateWest and KCTS 9,  will air on KCTS Connects Friday, June 17 at 7 p.m. Click here to view the video.To read the stories on Crosscut, click here.  And you can listen to Robert McClure discuss the issue with Ross Reynolds on The Conversation during the noon hour Tuesday, June 14 on KUOW 94.9 FM.

The power of regional investigative reporting

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, 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

Investigating the health of a community

The Duwamish is not only Seattle’s only river, and the original home of its first Native American people, it is now also an industrial waterway classified as one of the nation’s worst toxic waste sites and one of the few federal Superfund cleanup sites in the country to bisect a major urban area.Through this project, InvestigateWest’s Carol Smith examined how this confluence of factors – location, history and industry – has shaped the health of the communities that have grown up around the river. While reams of data have looked at the health of the river, much less is known about the health of the people who depend on or live near its waters. Smith was a 2010 recipient of the national California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship from the University of Southern Calfornia’s Annenberg School of Journalism. This project was done in conjunction with her fellowship and also appeared in, an experienced health journalist, was able to dig deep and find some fascinating public health data to illustrate what living in a Superfund site can do to the people who call it home.

Journalists cooperated to produce package on dangerous refinery chemical

Today’s stories on the use of super-toxic hydrofluoric acid at oil refineries are the product of an interesting new way in which in-depth news increasingly is being reported.It’s called collaboration — a path that was viewed with suspicion by many journalists until the current media maelstrom slashed the number of reporters out there turning over rocks on behalf of the public.That sort of in-depth journalism increasingly is in short supply. But those of us still producing it are finding it really helps if we talk to each other and — this would have been revolutionary not that many years ago — actually work together.In this case, the Center for Public Integrity teamed up with ABC News to investigate the use of this super-toxic agent at 50 of the nation’s 148 refineries. When their investigation was close to done, the center contacted regional reporting centers such as InvestigateWest to take an in-depth look at refineries in their regions.

New partnerships for InvestigateWest

InvestigateWest teamed up with KING 5 TV, producing an in-depth look at air safety in the skies over Washington state.The story might open your eyes next time you drag that carry-on aboard the plane. On average, more than 150 close calls are happening every day, KING’s Jim Forman reported. A pilot and co-pilot operating on three hours’ sleep start taking a wrong turn – right into the path of another aircraft – after lifting off from Boeing Field in Seattle, InvestigateWest’s Robert McClure reported.  Quick work by an air traffic controller averts disaster over the state’s largest population center.Reporting by both Forman and McClure found that NASA’s reporting system, designed to identify and prevent problems, also serves as a sort of “get out of jail free card” for reporting pilots and controllers.”If you cause a car crash, drivers can’t get off the hook simply for admitting fault. But in the case of pilots or other air safety professionals, if they are willing to admit they were in the wrong, the FAA won’t hold the report against them,” Foreman reported. “It also waives fines and penalties including the most serious — revoking a pilot’s license.”Part one of Forman’s report includes a video presentation with special graphics highlighting the risks posed by near-miss collisions. Part two of the report focuses on the most congested airspace over Washington state.

Daughter of cancer victim to testify before lawmakers today

Chelsea Crump, daughter of oncology pharmacist Sue Crump, testifies today in Olympia on SB 5594, a bill that would regulate the handling of hazardous drugs by health-care workers. Chelsea’s mother, Sue Crump, died of pancreatic cancer after longtime workplace exposure to toxic chemotherapy, which InvestigateWest Carol Smith covered in a July investigation.On Jan. 17, Sen. Karen Keiser introduced SB 5149, which would require that the state cancer registry capture occupational data from cancer patients.

InvestigateWest is looking for development talent!

Thanks to funding from The Brainerd Foundation that is allowing InvestigateWest to invest in building our organization, we are very excited about growing to meet our needs. We have the opportunity to bring on board development and marketing expertise that will provide resources to grow!InvestigateWest is a nonprofit, public service investigative journalism organization. We produce powerful journalism that makes communities better, and you can see examples of what we do on this Web site. InvestigateWest is dedicated to enhancing democracy and community in the Pacific Northwest through journalism produced for the common good. The right candidate for this position is a development professional with experience working for a startup. Candidates should have experience identifying, cultivating a Candidates be self-starters, and bring experience successfully soliciting five-figure (and above) major gifts. Strong abilities to cultivate and network with others are a must. The successful candidate will have a proven background, with at least three years development and fund-raising experience, and a zeal for what InvestigateWest is all about.To apply, please submit a cover letter,three references, a 1-2 page writing sample or a marketing or grant writing piece, to Brainerd Foundation is a Northwest-focused family foundation that provides grants to strengthen the ability of nonprofits, communities, and decision-makers to protect our region’s air, land and water.