The true value of an investigative story is not measured in Web hits, media partners or awards – it’s whether our reports help improve the world. By that yardstick, the Center for Public Integrity’s work showed clear impact in 2010:
- Our Sexual Assault on Campus stories on the pandemic of rape at American colleges and universities spurred the University of Wisconsin to post its annual sexual assault reports online for the first time. As well, the Department of Education cited two universities with Title IX violations as a result of the investigation and new legislation was introduced in Congress to address the campus assault problem.
- Our exposé of the international asbestos trade, Dangers in the Dust, has had a powerful impact on public-health activists who have used its key findings on the multinational asbestos lobby to argue for bans in countries such as Brazil, India, and Mexico. The project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has had particular impact on Canada, which exports the carcinogenic fiber to India. In response to the series, Canada’s opposition leader, Liberal Party MP Michael Ignatieff, called for an end to his country’s exports, and an Internet campaign resulted in more than 7,000 letters being sent to Canadian officials, calling for an export ban.
- Our story “Ginnie Mae’s Troubling Endorsements” documented three dozen Ginnie Mae-approved lenders with a range of federal and state sanctions, fines and suspensions. Since publication, six of the lenders identified in the report have been kicked out of the Federal Housing Administration program, subpoenaed by investigators or closed by regulators. In congressional testimony, the Housing and Urban Development Department’s inspector general used findings from the investigation to warn about Ginnie Mae’s weak oversight of lenders.
- ICIJ’s groundbreaking series on the $4 billion black market in bluefin tuna sparked reforms by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The European regulatory body agreed to create an electronic system to better track the troubled tuna trade. Following the report, an international campaign began to boycott bluefin tuna. In addition, environmentalists blockaded the entry to the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, demanding that more be done to save the threatened species which is increasingly ending up as sushi in Japan and around the world.
- Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on multiple occasions hammered BP executives over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, using Center data showing that two of the oil giant’s refineries accounted for 97 percent of all flagrant occupational safety violations in the U.S. between 2007 and 2010. The story demonstrated BP’s longstanding propensity for putting profits ahead of worker safety. The piece was also cited at two White House press conferences and in a class-action lawsuit against BP in Florida.
- The American Bar Association is now studying whether third-party investment in lawsuits, in the form of loans to lawyers or financing arrangements with their clients, may run afoul of ethical rules governing attorney conduct. The action follows publication of “Betting on Justice: Borrowing to Sue,” a collaboration between the Center and The New York Times that shows how Wall Street now bankrolls court cases.
CORRECTION — 1/3/2011: A previous version of this story mistakenly credited the Center for Public Integrity’s Sexual Assault on Campus investigation with spurring Maryland’s attorney general to rule that the state can force university administrators to disclose the names of students found responsible for sexual assault. The AG’s ruling was in fact due to the work of journalism students at the University of Marlyand.