Last week, the members of Investigative Reporters and Editors gathered in Phoenix to give their annual awards for the most incisive examples of investigative reporting in 2006. Here are some of the highlights:
A multi-million-dollar scheme promised illegal immigrants a way to enter and stay in the United States legally — by selling them fake papers to become an American Indian. Miami’s WTVJ uncovered the man at the center of a scheme that swindled hundreds of South Florida immigrants out of thousands of dollars in “Citizenship for Sale.” In the series, Jeff Burnside travels from Mexico City to North Dakota to expose the fallacy of the operation and its founder, a convicted felon who claims he was divinely inspired.
A group of graduate students from the University of North Texas teamed up with professional reporters at the Fort Worth Weekly to compile “A Stunning Toll,” a record of fatal and dangerous misuses of taser guns by Texas law enforcement.
“Secret Political Piggy Bank,” a series in the Albany Times Union, won the FOIA award for using public records, which the paper had to sue for, to reveal corrupt spending practices by members of the New York State Legislature, including the state senate’s majority leader.