Exposing injustice requires time, resources and the special skills of dedicated journalists.
But today, these requirements are in short supply among many news organizations. Falling advertising revenue and changing news habits have squeezed newsroom budgets. As a result, investigations to hold the powerful accountable — especially at the state and local level — are far too rare.
That’s the challenge that led to the creation of the nonprofit New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University. Its award-winning journalists produce and teach the kind of in-depth, impactful journalism we need today more than ever.
Reporting for Impact
NECIR stories, as the saying goes, aim to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. They reach wide audiences and spur action through mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, WGBH, HuffPost, Slate and dozens of local newspapers in New England.
NECIR investigations change laws, policy and behavior. Past stories revealed:
- Unreported abuse, neglect and deaths of at-risk children monitored by Massachusetts child welfare officials, triggering a public outcry and the governor’s decision to reform a risk assessment system used by the state Department of Children and Families.
- Holes in an arson and murder conviction, leading to the release of a man who had served 30 years in prison for the crime.
- Poorly understood contracts for reverse home mortgages were forcing the elderly out of their homes, prompting lawmakers to revisit regulations and readers to raise enough money to save one senior from eviction.
- A flawed state program to compensate wrongfully convicted inmates after their release, prompting new legislation and a state campaign to improve the system.
- Unacknowledged corporate influence over research and advocacy from some of the nation’s most respected policy “think tanks” in Washington.
- Allegations of abuse, neglect and misspending at a taxpayer-funded special education school in Massachusetts, leading to public hearings in the Massachusetts State House and legislation to improve transparency.
- False reports by Boston’s Department of Public Works of pothole repairs, spurring the mayor to adopt a “311”city accountability call system.
Teaching Future Watchdogs
NECIR reporters and educators teach new generations of journalists the skills of investigative reporting:
For high school students, NECIR sponsors a summer journalism institute, attracting more than 120 young reporters to Boston each summer for hands-on, real-world training.
For college journalists, NECIR teaches the investigative reporting advanced course at Boston University and integrates student researchers and interns into reporting for national and regional news outlets.
For early-career professionals, NECIR offers weekend workshop seminars and presentations across the country and, for high school journalism advisers, online courses.
For reporters working in emerging democracies, NECIR leads tailored trainings on site and online for journalists from Russia, Georgia, Albania, the Balkans and other countries.
Learn more at: www.necir.org.