INN members pinpoint schools in potentially dangerous traffic pollution zones

Each week across the country, children spend hours in school buildings located close to busy highways — potentially exposing them to high levels of toxic exhaust and diesel fumes, an investigation by Investigative News Network member newsrooms has found. Exhausted at School is an investigation into toxic road pollution and its effect on kids’ health at school. Using a detailed data analysis based on existing research, members pinpointed dozens of schools in states across the country that could pose a health risk to students based on their location near the nation’s busiest highways. The project, which was generously supported by the IRE and Google Ideas Data Journalism Fund, is being led by INN and InvestigateWest, an award-winning journalism studio in Seattle. Among the findings and impacts:

In San Diego, Voice of San Diego found 39 schools in the pollution danger zone around the city. Continue Reading →

Collaborative Investigation by the Investigative News Network: Deadly Patrols

This series is the result of a months-long collaboration among the newsrooms, which shared documents, reporting and interviews. The multi-platform collaborative project, coordinated by INN, is an ambitious journalistic effort to document allegations of mistreatment and investigate every death involving border agents. Reporters found that the number of fatal incidents is growing even as both assaults on Border Patrol agents and the number of immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally is in decline. Continue Reading →

INN members find top election ‘Power Players’

They are heirs and heiresses, self-made millionaires and philanthropists. They are health care CEOs, financial analysts, venture capitalists, general contractors, scientists, authors and lawyers. They are some of this nation's biggest "Power Players." The Investigative News Network and some of its member newsrooms have taken a unique look at the largest campaign finance donors from each of these states to candidates and committees in federal elections and all 50 states. INN used data from two of its members, the National Institute for Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, to analyze the top individual donors from about a dozen states. Continue Reading →

Little tracking for hazardous materials transported through states

Each day, potentially hazardous chemicals — like paint, gasoline and compressed and flammable gases — are transported on the nation’s railroads, highways, waterways and through the air. In many cases, these there is very little tracking of these chemicals unless something goes wrong, according to the findings of a collaborative investigation conducted by several INN members. The project used data from the Hazardous Materials Incident Reporting Subsystem maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The data has collected, cleaned and curated by the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting at Investigative Reporters and Editors, with which INN has a partnership. Using the data, our members could analyze:
City and route where the incident occurred
Name and quantity of material released
Carrier name and the company that shipped the material
Information about injuries, fatalities, road closures, evacuations, damages, amount of damages and cost of response

More than half a million hazardous materials transportation incidents have occured since 1973, when the system began collecting records. Continue Reading →

Methodology for ‘Exhausted at School’ project

To find schools that could be in hazardous pollution zones, INN members in the 'Exhausted at School' project used two sets of data for each state or area analyzed: One was a set of roadways and corresponding traffic counts from the state department of transportation and the other a set of school addresses from the state department of education. Using mapping software known as ArcMap, roadways were selected with an average of 50,000 or more vehicles per day, based on the annualized average daily traffic number as calculated by state traffic engineers. Then the schools were mapped, and the schools within 500 feet of those highways were selected. INN journalists took care to select only schools where children were present (eliminating administration buildings and closed schools) and verified the location of each school in the potential pollution plume. Some INN member newsrooms also looked at day cares and private schools within that zone. Continue Reading →

Challenges to Prosecution in Border Patrol Cases

Bisbee, Arizona -- Take a map of Arizona, draw a square in the bottom right hand corner -- the one closest to New Mexico and the international border -- and you get Cochise County. Fewer people live here than in many cities, and it’s part of the nation’s most active illegal immigration corridor. With a history of public art controversies and two coffee roasters, Bisbee seems more "Bezerkeley" than border town. But over at the courthouse, there’s no mistaking its place on the line between Mexico and the United States. County Attorney Edward Rheinheimer, who’s practiced here for 20 years, has seen more than half a dozen cases involving border patrol agents fatally shooting people. Continue Reading →