Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tools: IRE Launches Training Blog

Learn about cultivating a "watchdog culture" in your newsroom, computer-assisted reporting and the art of interviewing reluctant sources at the new training blog launched at the website of Investigative Reporters and Editors. If you haven't been at this site before, check out other cool features like IRE's calendar of workshops around the U.S., its voluminous database of investigative stories, tipsheets, beat guides and research resources, and its job centre. Tambien en espaƱol.

TAGS: tools, investigations

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Investigations: Canada Drops in Transparency Ranking

Canada has gotten a downgrade in its ranking for government and judicial transparency and integrity from watchdog group Global Integrity. The group says in a report that Canada "continues to struggle with controlling the influence of money in the political process." It's critical of secrecy in financial contributions to political candidates and loans to candidates and parties.

Also problematic: "a revolving door effect between lawmakers and lobbyists" because of a lack of a cooling-off period for post-government employment; lack of personal asset disclosure of Canadian Senators, which the group calls "a bizarre exception for one of the world's wealthier and more developed democracies"; and weak judicial accountability. Canada's legal framework is rated as strong, but there is a "large" gap in the actual implementation of laws, which has slipped. Canada's ranking was downgraded from "strong" to "moderate" since the 2007 report.

Thanks to Democracy Watch for its notice about the report; its press release about the report is here.

TAGS: transparency, investigations, corruption

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Investigations: NYT on Russian-Backed Chechen Ruler's Dark Ways

Vlad Putin's man in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is the subject of a harrowing tour de force of investigative journalism by C. J. Chivers in this New York Times item. Chechen strongman Kadyrov's slain exiled former bodyguard, Umar Israilov, gave accounts of atrocities extraordinary even by the dark norms of this blood-soaked territory, Chivers reports.

TAGS: Russia, investigations

Intelligence: NSA Claims It's Blind to VoIP... Okaaaaay

Thanks to Bilbo for bringing this curious story to my attention - an interesting item from the tech publication The Register about the U.S. National Security Agency's supposed difficulties in surveilling Skype. Hmm. Can't imagine those folks have any problem at all accessing Skype. Perhaps they are really looking for some kind of vaster data-mining surveillance capacity. Or perhaps they just want Osama to THINK they can't overhear him. Does it not seem strange that they would announce such a big hole in their capabilities? Spies are so tricky!

TAGS: intelligence, surveillance, NSA

Monday, February 16, 2009

Da Biz: Online Nonprofit Focuses on Investigative Stories... And Thrives

As the financial imbroglio continues, the Voice of San Diego, an online nonprofit, is showing how investigative journalism can work in the new digital era. And how the news business can actually succeed. And, no kidding, even pay a decent income. All in this item in the LA Times.

TAGS: future of journalism, the biz

Investigations: Lead-Footed FDA Stalls on Lipstick Safety Report

More than a year after a consumer-safety group reported that most lipsticks it tested contained lead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to reveal results of an investigation of the problem, says this item from Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. Malkan reports that Health Canada is also conducting its own review of chemicals in cosmetics.

TAGS: investigations, health, FDA, safety

Investigations: Army Neglect Blamed for Soldier Suicides

The suicide rate in the U.S. Army has skyrocketed, thanks in part to official neglect, says a investigation. Four years after Salon uncovered medical neglect at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center - sparking a national scandal - Salon finds army health care still failing soldiers. Many of the suicides were preventable, it says.

TAGS: investigations, military

In the Courts: Appeal in Confidential Informant Case

Case law about the protection of confidential sources continues to evolve in Canada. One of the latest cases went to appeal last month. It involves a Hamilton Spectator reporter, Ken Peters, who was fined $31,600 for refusing to reveal the identity of a source, says this item from the Canadian Association of Journalists, which is intervening in the case.

TAGS: legal