InquireFirst intern awarded CASW data reporting grant

WASHINGTON, D.C. — InquireFirst intern Jennifer Lu has been awarded a $5,000 special reporting grant by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW) Taylor/Blakeslee Project Fellowship Program to report on the urgent problems created by the nation’s aging drinking water infrastructure.

Lu is completing her final semester of the University of Missouri master’s program in journalism, where she is focusing on investigative and data journalism. Her professional goal is to apply these skills to stories about science, health and the environment.

In awarding Lu the fellowship, the judges noted the urgency and importance of investigative science reporting on the drinking water contamination crises now facing many cities. They congratulated Lu on a reporting plan that will dig into these issues and examine the effectiveness of practice and regulation at the local, regional and national levels.

Lu is one of five graduate students currently supported by Taylor-Blakeslee University Fellowships. The Brinson Foundation, which underwrites the fellowships, provided the follow-up grant to enable a Fellow to undertake a career-launching enterprise project. Read more

InquireFirst journalist awarded prestigious Alicia Patterson Fellowship


InquireFirst reporter Elizabeth Douglass, left, and Nick Janzen, energy & environment reporter with Indiana Public Radio, center, interview Bill Carroll, director of operations at Ace Hardware in Lake Station, Indiana. Photo by John Nelson
WASHINGTON, D.C. — InquireFirst reporter Elizabeth Douglass has been awarded a $40,000 Alicia Patterson fellowship to support her reporting on the nation’s deteriorating drinking water infrastructure. She has also received a $9,000 grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to help cover the expenses of her work, including travel and public records requests.

Nearly 80 journalists working in more than a half-dozen countries applied for Alicia Patterson fellowships. They are awarded twice a year to support reporters who need financial assistance to pursue stories that provide an in-depth look at important business or economic issues. The six winners were chosen following interviews and a review of detailed proposals, work samples and references. Read more

Reflections on Investigative Journalism

InquireFirst’s first investigative project will debut in this space in the fall of 2016. While you wait, please enjoy these selections from our contributing journalists, advisory council and board of directors. If you have something to share, feel free to join the conversation by sending links and comments to:

Photograph by Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock

Pizzagate and other Fake News

Pew Research Center tells us that 64% of U.S. adults say fabricated news stories cause confusion about the basic facts of issues and events.  The confusion isn’t related to education, income or party affiliation, it runs across demographic lines.  Equally troubling is the finding that 23% of people polled by Pew have shared fake news stories — and 14% said they knew the stories were fake when they hit the Send button.—S. Lynne Walker, Executive Director, InquireFirst

Facts Plus Heart

Usually we think of investigative journalism as reporting that exposes wrongdoing, maybe even puts someone in jail. But deep reporting—combined with deep thinking—sometimes leads to stories outside that box. A recent New York Times story about a Syrian refugee who is traveling throughout Germany, trying to put a human face on his fellow refugees by playing a donated piano, falls into that category. Yes, this is the tale of one man. But by also investigating the wide-ranging ramifications of Aeham Ahmad’s story, the Times’ Beirut bureau chief, Anne Barnard, illuminates the world’s growing refugee crisis, one most of us might prefer to ignore. – Susan White, Executive Editor, InquireFirst

John Oliver, Investigative Comic

Want to know what’s gone wrong with American journalism? John Oliver explains it all for you in his “Last Week Tonight” show on HBO. —Robert P. Laurence, InquireFirst.

Expanding the Box

A big part of investigative reporting is figuring out how the topics we’re examining fit into the broader world. This New York Times column by Farhad Majoo is must reading for everyone who believes, as I do, that offering readers this type of perspective is one of our greatest responsibilities. —Susan White, executive editor, InquireFirst

Read More Reflections on Investigative Journalism

Photo by Luis J. Jiménez

19 Latin American journalists attend inaugural InquireFirst symposium

SAN DIEGO — Journalists from Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Panama attended InquireFirst’s inaugural international investigative journalism symposium Nov. 14-18, 2016, in San Diego. The program, organized and directed by InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker and conducted entirely in Spanish, focused on investigative journalism in the digital age. Nineteen Latin American journalists met with prestigious U.S. journalists and professors who offered in-depth instruction on digital reporting, data reporting and visualization of data, video reporting and economic models for conducting investigative reporting on a limited budget. Read more  


Quinones combines sharp eye and gifted writing to chronicle life in LA communities

LOS ANGELES — Journalist and author Sam Quinones combines his sharp eye and his gifted writing style to produce a powerful chronicle of life in immigrant communities of Los Angeles in his recently published book The Virgin of the American Dream. In this unique look at a little-known side of life in Los Angeles, Quinones illustrates his text with images of murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe that he has been taking for more than a decade and which he tells readers are used by LA business owners to dissuade taggers from marring their walls with graffiti.

Quinones, winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and InquireFirst journalist, talks about his new book with Gustavo Arellano and OCWeekly. Quinones, who first came to understand the significance of the Virgin while living and reporting in Mexico, told Arellano, “I began to see how the Virgin, translated Read more