Local Investigations

Centro de Periodismo Investigativo uncovered the influence peddling and other multibillion-dollar corruption that pillaged public funds in Puerto Rico amid the worst fiscal crisis in the island’s modern history. The reporting included review of contracts and corporate records and interviews with more than 20 people with direct knowledge of the facts, along with publishing 389 pages of a leaked Telegram chat involving Gov. Ricardo Rosselló-Nevares. He and part of his cabinet had to resign amid the backlash. Read the Stories »

Photo credit: Eric Rojas/Centro de Periodismo Investigativo


Voice of OC pieced together two stories about public corruption by poring through hundreds of pages of depositions by current and former Santa Ana, California, officials in a civil court case filed by the former police chief. Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido was accused of running a side business personally renting out city-owned property and interfering with police decisions about which illegal pot shops to raid. Read the Stories »

inewsource used Chinese business filings, archived websites in Mandarin, real estate documents and divorce records to uncover that renowned University of California San Diego ophthalmologist Dr. Kang Zhang is part of a Chinese recruitment program under FBI scrutiny. The FBI says the Thousand Talents Program incentivizes scientists to illegally take intellectual property developed at U.S. universities to China. As inewsource raised questions, Zhang resigned from UCSD just days before the story was published. Read the Story »

Illustration credit: Brian Stauffer for inewsource


San Antonio has two public municipal utilities — CPS Energy and San Antonio Water Systems. While SAWS is mostly open for public watchdogs and scrutiny, CPS tends to operate more like a private entity, including when it comes to its expenses. A months long Rivard Report audit of the utilities’ financial reports revealed some stunning differences in executive compensation, travel spending and perks such as office flowers and local dinners. Read the Story »

Georgia News Lab unveiled a decades-old system through which Georgia’s elected tax commissioners exploit the power of their office to charge “personal fees” for collecting city taxes. The fees in some cases amount to tens of thousands of dollars a year. The story and a series of followups drew the attention of lawmakers who suggested they could introduce measures to regulate the system in the next legislative session. Read the Story »

Outlier Media found that the University of Michigan invested $30 million from its endowment in a private equity-backed real estate investment firm that purchased 112 residential properties in Detroit’s annual tax foreclosure auction and that the sale resulted in at least 20 eviction proceedings. The story distributed by Bridge Magazine applied techniques Outlier had taught in a community workshop called, “Watchdogging the Tax Auction.” Read the Story »

In These Times interviewed workers at meatpacking plants in four states about their experiences of sexual harassment at the world's largest pork processor, Smithfield Foods. A dozen sources described management ignoring a toxic culture of harassment, including sexual comments, unwanted touching, coercion and retaliation. Low-wage workers have been underrepresented in the #MeToo movement and its coverage. Read the Story »

When you think of Chicago and its history what do you think about? In the interest of challenging false narratives about the city and its neighborhoods, Block Club Chicago wrote about the black cowboys of the South Side, showing how black ranchers and riders have lived alongside their white counterparts for decades. Read the Story »

Photo credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago


Washington’s Shaw neighborhood has been rapidly gentrifying, and DCist captured the culture clash by reporting that T-Mobile had ordered a corner store selling mobile phones to stop blaring go-go, the percussive, joyful genre of music that is native to D.C. The reporting led to a social media outcry, daily protests, politicians getting involved, and T-Mobile reversing itself. Read the Story »

Wisconsin Watch, working in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio, found officials pressured residents under the threat of eminent domain to sell their homes and land to widen roads for the massive Foxconn project. But after the property was acquired, those road projects either were scaled back or scuttled‚ raising questions about the legality of some of the nearly $160 million in land purchases and relocation assistance. Read the Story »

The DC Line revealed that a careless employee flooded four floors of the District of Columbia's $215 million crime lab with wastewater after leaving a biohazard sink running. Local officials didn't notify the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the 2018 incident for more than five months; the public didn't learn of the flood until The DC Line's article several weeks later. Read the Story »

The Austin Bulldog for months had been filing public information requests to further an investigation of a highly placed public official who also owns a real estate brokerage and had hired two of his government employees as sales agents. He resigned effective the day before the story broke. Read the Story »

Maryland Matters traced decades of change in Baltimore with a one-of-a-kind deep look at the city’s decision to rename a playground, casually erasing history in the process. Read the Story »

A park for the ages, before and after its rehabilitation. Photo credits: Lee McCardell Kennedy and William F. Zorzi


The city attorney of Carmel, California, resigned after Voices of Monterey Bay repeatedly reported discrepancies in his resumé that appeared to vastly overstate his qualifications. Along the way, Voices' reporting also resulted in an internal investigation into the behavior of Carmel's mayor. Read the Story »

WEHOville discovered that West Hollywood, a city of 1.89 square miles and 37,000 people (40% of whom identify as gay men), is home to 10 massage parlors where Asian women provide sexual services. Evidence collected for the story, along with WEHOville’s coverage of two young black men dying in a wealthy white political donor’s home, sparked the city to conduct an investigation and to sponsor a forum on human trafficking. Read the Story »

A Sikh community east of Los Angeles was blindsided by a developer’s plan to tear down its rented house of worship. The Alhambra Source exposed how a developer won planning commission approval for the project based on misleading information. After the report was published, the City Council scheduled a hearing to see if the project’s approval should be sent back to the planning commission for possible revocation. Read the Story »

Members of the west San Gabriel Valley’s Sikh community attend the Sunday service at Alhambra’s Sikh Gurdwara. The Sikh community will have to vacate this building to make way for a new development, which they say they weren’t properly informed of. Photo credit: Phoenix Tso


Key Peninsula News covered the plight of two transient sailors trying to get out of a dangerous place after losing their friend in a fatal boating accident. The story exposed a situation in Washington State’s Puget Sound, where dozens of people were illegally living aboard derelict wood-hulled vessels in winter without power, water or access to sewage disposal. Read the Story »

William Harris, left, and Chris Marx with their dogs, Quagmire and Icky, spend most of their time on their smallest boat since it's the easiest to heat. Photo credit: Ted Olinger/KP News


The Montana Free Press showed that a private website ranking the party loyalty of Republican legislators was penalizing bipartisan votes and that its flawed methodology could misrepresent legislative records. Data reporter Eric Dietrich, who wrote the story, built a new, nonpartisan vote-tracking app to allow the Montana public draw their own conclusions about how well lawmakers were representing their interests. Read the Story »

After receiving several troubling tips, Chicago's South Side Weekly investigated the business practices of a recently closed social justice-oriented café and found evidence of a culture of wage theft, sexual and racial harassment, and a problematic relationship between the café owner and its landlord, a church. Read the Story »

Many supporters of a new mining venture in Patagonia, Arizona, stress the economic impact it would have on the town. The Patagonia Regional Times investigated the actual numbers behind this claim and explained why it is unclear how much tax revenue will result once the mine is fully operational. Read the Story »