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2010 Investigative Reporting Workshop Wrap Up

 The Investigative Reporting Workshop, a professional journalism center in the School of Communication at American University, conducts multimedia investigative journalism projects on a national and international scale. The Workshop is mentoring a new generation of investigative reporters — several of the recent graduates of the master’s program are on staff — while also enlarging the public space for the leading journalists of their time to work with them as Senior Fellows or contract writers.

 Nuclear energy lobby working hard to win support: 

This is a multi-part package that included a photo gallery, video, an interactive graphic and map; published with McClatchy newspapers, which also created additional videos with our reporter’s narration.

Flying Cheap

A FRONTLINE documentary co-produced with the Workshop about how regional airlines cut costs. In addition to the hour-long documentary, IRW created a searchable airline database with crash reports, market data and safety records by airport and airline on our website. This was one of the highest-rated shows of the PBS FRONTLINE season, and re-aired in May; IRW then produced a follow-up magazine piece for the new FRONTLINE magazine series, which aired Jan. 18, 2011.

SOC irw foia

 FOIA Audit/DC: What’s online and what’s not

This was a joint project with the D.C. Open Government Coalition, in which IRW showed and documented how the District’s administrative agencies, boards and commissions earned a failing grade when it came to posting records online as required by the city’s Freedom of Information Act. May 21, 2010


German Companies Lobby For Stimulus Money

German companies lobby for stimulus cash, co-published with Die Welt in Berlin, documented how German companies lobbied and won stimulus dollars, particularly in the cash-for-clunkers programs. May 21, 2010


The X-Ray Factor

A story, searchable database (by state), and interactive graphics and videos that found that 12 states and the District of Columbia do not require X-Ray operators to be credentialed or meet specific competency standards. This lack of certification can and does, in turn, lead to misdiagnose and over-exposure. Sept. 29, 2010.


The Coal Truth

The Coal Truth investigation found that the Massey Energy Co. had the worst fatality record even before a mine explosion killed 29 in May; co-published with Nov. 23, 2010.

Blown Away: America's billions for clean energy jobs are flying overseas.

Blown Away: Tracking stimulus grants for renewable energy

IRW published three new investigations in this series, which showed how energy money was still going abroad, despite criticism from Congress; how millions in stimulus grants went to wind farms built even before the stimulus bill passed or Obama was elected; how powerful Democrats helped a Chinese energy firm channel stimulus money. All published with photos and a variety of interactive maps. Co-published with


Banktracker report on MSNBC

Bank Tracker

BankTracker continued, with quarterly updates that allowed people to search for their bank, credit union or TARP recipients, and to see the 2010 failed bank list. IRW also published a story on how mortgage-backed securities cost the nation’s credit unions millions. Dec. 22, 2010, and a story about how the bank at the center of a House ethics investigation of Maxine Waters was the weakest to receive funds from the government. All co-published with

Toxic Influence

A series examining how the reform of the outdated toxic substances law collapsed, Oct. 13; a story on how the EPA headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., was itself indicative of sick-building syndrome, Nov.15, 2010; a story on how the EPA is soon to release a list of the chemicals most likely to contribute to a host of disorders, including autism, and to begin testing them further, Dec. 22, 2010; all published with videos, interactive graphics and photos; one co-published with WRAL-TV in North Carolina, and the others with Politics Daily.


Connected: The Media and Broadband Project

The series continued with an analysis of how only 14 percent of U.S. radio stations have gone digital, despite the fact that it has been nearly eight years since the government approved the technology.


Other Work from 2010

IRW also published an extensive story with searchable databases and maps as part of its i-lab unit on the new journalism ecosystem, which detailed 60 nonprofit news publishers, many of which were created in the last four years. Chuck Lewis, Workshop founder and author of the report, presented the findings at the annual Online News Association convention in October.

The IRW also published 11 stories in the i-lab showcasing new models for journalism.

They also published a story and reader-invitation to tell us their stories as we began the build up to the debut of the What Went Wrong project with Don Barlett and Jim Steele.

The Workshop hired graduate and undergraduate interns over the last academic year, and continues to offer opportunities for those interested in research and reporting.