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EXPOSÉ: America's Investigative Reports
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November 26, 2007

Returning in 2008

Even though EXPOSÉ's second season has come to a close, episodes continue to air around the country. So check with your local PBS station.

Also, in the next month our website will add four episodes from our first season, which will complete the collection of EXPOSÉ' programs available to watch online.

A BITTER PILL
Every prescription medicine you take is tested on humans before the FDA approves it for sale and use. But if you assumed those tests are always done smartly, safely, and ethically under the watchful eyes of expert regulators, you would be wrong. Perhaps even dead wrong. A team of investigative reporters from Bloomberg Markets magazine discovered during a yearlong investigation that "across the U.S., the centers that do the testing—and the regulators who watch them—allow scores of people to be injured or killed."

SHOOTING THE WAR
In the early years of the Iraq War, the photographs of Kael Alford and Paul Fusco provided a sharp contrast to the nearly bloodless war presented in mainstream American media. Alford, who first entered Iraq in March 2003, captured the impact of the U.S. military’s Shock and Awe campaign on Iraqi civilians; Fusco chose to document the stateside effects of the war – the funerals of fallen soliders – despite government restrictions on photographing the war’s casualties. Watch the otherwise untold story of the conflict. Winner of a Gold Plaque in the Investigative Reporting/News Documentary category of the 2007 Chicago International Television Awards (The Hugo Awards)

POLICING THE FORCE
During their monumental four-year investigation, Los Angeles Times reporters Matt Lait and Scott Glover scrutinized the LAPD's own data detailing 2000 incidents of police firing their weapons. But they didn't just analyze paperwork, they "walked the scene": mirroring the cops' techniques, trying to work how they work and think how they think. In doing so, the reporters discovered numerous occasions on which the LAPD officers had told one story about a shooting when the evidence told another.

SCIENCE FICTION
As a reporter for a journal serving environmental scientists, Paul Thacker spent most of his time reviewing new research and writing policy analyses. But when he came across junkscience.com, a website that challenges scientific findings on hotbed issues such as global warming, he decided to look into the site's origins. Thacker started looking into other "grassroots" organizations promoting views shared by industry and found a web of hidden ties.

All episodes will remain online at our new homepage during the off-season.

Hope to see you next season!


November 05, 2007

"The deadliest job in China"

Shanxi Province is the heart of coal country in China, which uses more coal than the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined. More than 30,000 mines are in operation in China—about 20 percent of which are illegal and unregulated. To understand the scope of the mine safety problem in China, consider the numbers: in the last decade, yearly coal mine deaths in the U.S. had a low of 22 (in 2005) and a high of 47 (in 2006) . In China, coal mines claim the lives of about 6,000 workers every year. An article in the Christian Science Monitor calls coal mining "the deadliest job in China."

>> The United States Mine Rescue Association tracks coal mine fatalities in China on its website.

>> West Virginian Duane Moles traveled to Shanxi Province to investigate how coal mining is affecting the lives of villagers in a new video report for FRONTLINE/World: "China: Undermined". Read his reporter notes on The Muckraker Blog by the Center for Investigative Reporting.


November 02, 2007

PBS premiere: "Sustained Outrage"

EXPOSÉ's "Sustained Outrage" premieres on PBS tonight. Check local listings.

When mine disasters happen, the national news media comes running. But through careful data analysis, reporter Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette found most miners killed on the job don’t die in disasters that get national attention--rather most who are killed die alone. Collisions between coal transport cars crush workers. Boulders fall from the ceiling. Miners fall into the gears of machinery. But these stories, and the larger trend of unsafe mining conditions, rarely make headlines.

Ward put a decades worth of results from MSHA’s fatality reports into a database and came to the following conclusions:

  • Only 13 percent of the more than 100,000 coal miners killed in the United States in the last 100 years have died in mine disasters, which regulators define as accidents causing five or more deaths.

  • Between 1996 and 2005, there were 297 fatal coal-mining accidents that killed a total of 320 workers, U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows. Eleven of those accidents claimed more than one life.

  • 286 of the 320 miners killed on the job in the last decade died alone.
  • The biggest surprise after his six-month investigation: of 320 deaths in U.S coal mines in the past decade, 9 out of 10 were preventable – if the industry had followed its own safety regulations.

    >> The Mine Safety and Health Administration tracks mining deaths from 1995 to the present on its website. Poynter.org also highlights other mine safety resources.

    >> Read reporter Ken Ward’s tips for anyone interesting in investigating mine or worker safety issues.


    November 01, 2007

    Web premiere: "Sustained Outrage"

    Around 6:30 a.m. an explosion ripped through the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Thirteen miners were trapped underground. News crews from around the country descended on West Virginia's coal country. Lawmakers in Washington demanded stricter safety regulations and enforcement. The nation held its breath.

    It took nearly twelve hours before rescue crews could even enter the mine. By the time rescuers dug the men out, all but one were dead.

    While most reporters covered the Sago Mine story as a tragic accident, Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette decided to dig deeper. A fifteen-year veteran of the coal industry beat, Ward began examining mine records and visiting coalfields across West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. He spoke to coal miners, mine operators, government inspectors, and lawmakers. What he found was chilling: Mine operators and owners were pushing for the cheapest, fastest production of coal—a high-priced commodity—and sacrificing the lives and safety of miners in the process. Safety regulations were being ignored. Miners were receiving inadequate training. Rescue crews were short-staffed or nonexistent.

    Ward's series brought the systemic flaws of coal mining—what one mine safety lawyer called "an outlaw industry"—into the national spotlight.

    >> Read Ken Ward's original series in The Charleston Gazette.


    October 31, 2007

    Preview: "Sustained Outrage"

    In the wake of the Sago Mine disaster, the Charleston Gazette goes deep inside the coal mining industry to reveal the lax safety measures and lack of oversight by a federal agency that can create deadly working conditions.

    watch video with:

    QUICKTIME Small | Large
    WINDOWS MEDIASmall | Large


    October 29, 2007

    The hidden pitfalls of using hidden cameras

    Two of the TV news teams featured in EXPOSÉ's "Security Theater" used hidden cameras to get the inside scoop on airport security.

    The ethical debate over the use of hidden cameras in journalism is a heated one. ABC's Primetime Live has used hidden cameras to uncover spoiled meat in supermarkets and abuse in nursing homes. And let's not forget Dateline NBC's wildly popular and controversial "To Catch a Predator" series, in which hidden cameras and sting operations are used to bust pedophiles on the Internet.

    The hidden camera is an invaluable tool for reporters seeking to acquire proof of wrongdoing, abuse, and fraud. But it can also be a dangerous tool if used for the wrong reasons. And the many lawsuits filed against news organizations charging invasion of privacy, trespassing, and fraud because of the improper use of hidden cameras show just how dangerous a tool it can be. (In the most famous case, a jury ruled in favor of Food Lion, purveyor of the above cited spoiled meat, against ABC’s Primetime Live for the show’s fraudulent use of undercover reporters and hidden cameras -- to the tune of $5.5 million in punitive damages.)

    Bob Steele, a journalist and contributor to an ethics columnist for Poynter.org came up with this helpful set of guidelines over a decade ago for reporters who are considering using a hidden camera or any kind of deception or misrepresentation in newsgathering. (In this month's American Journalism Review, Steele’s guidelines were invoked in an attempt to judge the ethics of Harper’s reporter Ken Silverstein’s recent undercover stint in which he found out what kinds of unsavory things Washington lobbyists are willing to do for dictators, for the right price.) Steele further suggests reporters ask themselves questions such as: Have I exhausted all other investigative options? Does the public service of this investigation outweigh the deception involved in using a hidden camera? Is there an escape plan in case the undercover reporter is exposed?


    October 25, 2007

    Coming Friday: "Security Theater"

    Local television news may have a soft reputation when it comes to hard-hitting investigative journalism. However, some television newsrooms are chasing leads and cultivating inside sources as they undertake investigations that often have national importance. On this edition of Exposé, the investigative teams at KNXV in Phoenix, KUSA in Denver, and KHOU in Houston go undercover, go on stakeouts, and go the extra mile to unearth government documents and plumb knowledgeable sources revealing shocking lapses in the nation's airport security.

    >>Watch some of the original television reports that "Security Theater" is based on:

  • "Serious security questions at Sky Harbor Airport"
    Lisa Fletcher reports on lax overnight security at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, where TSA agents turn off the metal detectors and X-ray machines and close the checkpoints between midnight and 4:30 AM.

  • "Is Houston a sitting duck for terrorism?"
    Jeremy Rogalski finds that some smaller general aviation airports in Houston, TX have no government security requirements, only suggestions. Private and corporate jets and planes are readily accessible and available to anyone who makes it past the lax security.

  • Undercover agents slip bombs past DIA screeners
    Deborah Sherman learns from inside sources that screeners at Denver International Airport have failed to detect explosives in TSA tests.


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    A Companion Blog to Exposé, produced in association with CIR.

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