The Center for Investigative Reporting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Center for Investigative Reporting
FocusInvestigative journalism
MethodFoundation and member-supported
Key people
Monika Bauerlein, CEO[2]
Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief[2]
Maria Feldman, Chief Operating Officer

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) is a nonprofit news organization based in San Francisco, California.[3] It was founded in 1977 as the nation’s first nonprofit investigative journalism organization, and has since grown into a multi-platform newsroom, with investigations published on the Reveal website, public radio show and podcast, video pieces and documentaries and social media platforms. The public radio show and podcast, Reveal, co-produced with PRX, is CIR’s flagship distribution platform, airing on 588 stations nationwide. The newsroom focuses on reporting that reveals inequities, abuse, and corruption, and holds those responsible accountable.

In December 2023, Mother Jones announced that it would be combining with the Center for Investigative Journalism.[4]



David Weir, Dan Noyes, and Lowell Bergman founded The Center for Investigative Reporting in 1977.[5][6][7][8] This was the first nonprofit news organization in the United States to be focused on investigative reporting.[9]


In 1982, reporters from the Center worked with Mother Jones magazine to report testing fraud in consumer products.[10] The investigation won several awards, including Sigma Delta Chi and Investigative Reporters and Editors awards.[5]

CIR began producing television documentaries in 1980. It has since produced more than 30 documentaries for Frontline and Frontline/World, dozens of reports for other television outlets, and three independent feature documentaries. ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 60 Minutes have featured reporting from CIR. Major investigations in the 1980s resulted in reporting of the toxicity of ordinary consumer products, an exposé of nuclear accidents in the world's navies, and coverage of questionable tactics by the FBI during the administration of President Ronald Reagan.[5]


In 1990, CIR produced its first independent TV documentary, Global Dumping Ground, reported by Bill Moyers on PBS’s Frontline. The film spurred federal investigations and was rebroadcast in at least 18 nations.[5]

In 1992, CIR produced The Best Campaign Money Can Buy for Frontline, an investigation of the top funders of that year's presidential campaign. It featured correspondent Robert Krulwich, and was produced by Stephen Talbot with reporters Eve Pell and Dan Noyes. The documentary won a DuPont/Columbia Journalism Award.[11]

Other notable CIR reports included an investigation of General Motors, one on the rise of conservative media figure Rush Limbaugh and another on Congressman Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), as well as a study of education and race in an urban high school, School Colors. An investigation for the New York Daily News and FOX's Front Page revealed lethal dangers in a common diet drug.[5]


In 2005, the Center's investigations into wiretapping and data mining stimulated Congressional hearings on privacy issues.[5] The Center also exposed the forensic practices of the FBI that resulted in wrongful convictions and imprisonments.[12]

Robert J. Rosenthal became executive director of the Center in 2007.[5] He had more than thirty years of experience as a journalist and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.[13] Rosenthal hired Mark Katches as the editorial director of the start-up news organization called California Watch in 2009. Katches would later be named editorial director for all of CIR, a position he held until 2014, when he left to become the editor and vice president of content at The Oregonian, in Portland Oregon.[14]

In 2010, the Center released the documentary film, Dirty Business. It explored problems with the myth of clean coal and the extensive lobbying tactics of the coal industry.

The organization's reports have been published in news outlets around the country and in California including NPR News, PBS Frontline, PBS NEWSHOUR, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, The Daily Beast, Salon, Al Jazeera English, and American Public Media's Marketplace.

In April 2012, it partnered with Google to host TechRaking, an informal conference that brought together journalists and technologists.[15] In September 2012, the second TechRaking brought together journalists and gamers, at IGN in San Francisco.

CIR announced a partnership with Univision News in 2012 to bring investigative stories to Hispanic households in the United States.[16]

CIR acquired The Bay Citizen in 2012. In 2013 The Bay Citizen and California Watch merged into the CIR brand.[17]


California Watch and merger with The Bay Citizen[edit]

In 2009, The Center for Investigative Reporting created California Watch, a reporting team dedicated to state-focused stories.[5] Its website launched in 2010.[18] The site acted as a watchdog team focusing on government oversight, criminal justice, education, health, and the environment.[19] In 2010, the Online News Association honored California Watch with a general excellence award.[5] In 2012, California Watch won the George Polk Award for its series on Medicare billing fraud. California Watch also was a Pulitzer finalist for its On Shaky Ground series. The series detailed flaws in state oversight of seismic safety at K-12 schools. The On Shaky Ground reporting team won a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Public Service. California Watch won a second Polk award in 2012, this time for Ryan Gabrielson's series about the failures of a unique police force to solve crimes committed against the developmentally disabled living in state board-and-care hospitals. The series also won an Online Journalism Award from the Online News Association.

In April 2012 CIR merged with The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit, investigative news group based in San Francisco.[20][21]

Reveal YouTube Channel[edit]

In August 2012, The Center for Investigative Reporting created "The I Files" channel on YouTube.[22] The Knight Foundation provided grant funding to make the channel possible.[23] The channel, renamed as Reveal, presents investigative videos produced by CIR and from a variety of news outlets, including The New York Times, BBC, Al Jazeera English, ABC News, National Public Radio, and member organizations of the Investigative News Network.[24]


Reveal uses multiple digital platforms to publish its reporting. Its website,, features data-driven digital investigations, videos and multimedia stories, and links to collaborative reporting and podcast episodes published through local media partnerships and reporting networks. CIR is also active on social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The flagship distribution platform is a weekly public radio program and podcast, Reveal, co-produced with Public Radio Exchange.[25] The program airs on 588 radio stations in the Public Radio Exchange network, and the podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and other major podcast platforms, is downloaded 1.3 million times a month.

Reveal’s newest platform is serial podcasts. The first, “American Rehab,” on court-ordered drug rehab facilities, led to a Government Accountability Office investigation, numerous federal class-action lawsuits, canceled contracts, a criminal investigation, the closure of a rehab facility, Walmart shareholder activism, and multiple state investigations. “American Rehab” was the recipient of the 2020 IRE medal, the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Award, and the 2021 Gerald Loeb Award. The second serial, “Mississippi Goddam: The Ballad of Billey Joe,” is a seven-part deep dive into the problematic investigation of the 2008 death of a young Black athlete in Lucedale, Mississippi. A third serial, "After Ayotzinapa," is a three-part investigation into the cover-up of the mass kidnapping of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Iguala, Mexico in 2014.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2012, CIR received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Leadership.[26] The award is a monetary prize from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.[27] CIR received a prize of $1 million.[3] Executive Director Robert Rosenthal explained that the money would go toward new forms of video distribution.[3] CIR also plans to improve its technology and create a fund for future innovative projects.[28]

CIR stories have received numerous journalism awards, including the Gerald Loeb Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Hillman Prize, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, the George Polk Award, Emmy Award, Scripps Howard Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award (from the Society of Professional Journalists), and numerous Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards. Additionally, the Reveal radio show and podcast received a Peabody Award in 2013 for "The VA's Opiate Overload"[29] and in 2018 for “Kept Out”[30] and “Monumental Lies.”[31] The film Heroin(e), on the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary short in 2018.[32]

CIR has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize five times. In 2012, "On Shaky Ground," an investigation into seismic safety in California public schools, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting.[33] In 2013, “Broken Shield,” an investigation into California state police’s inability to solve crimes against severely disabled patients at state developmental centers, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.[34] In 2018, “All Work, No Pay,” a major investigation into work camps operating under the guise of drug rehabilitation facilities, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.[35] In 2019, “Kept Out,” an investigation on Redlining in the mortgage industry, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.[36] CIR was a finalist in Explanatory Reporting again, in 2020, for “Amazon: Behind the Smiles,” an investigation into high worker injury rates in Amazon warehouses.[37]

Notable Investigations[edit]

  • In “Mississippi Goddam,” a 2021 serial podcast, CIR found new details that shed doubt on the investigation into the 2008 death of a Black teenage football star, Billey Joe Johnson Jr. The podcast was included in Rolling Stone’s “The 10 Best Crime Podcasts of 2021”[38] and Spotify’s “Best Episodes of 2021.”
  • For “The Disappeared,” a 2020 investigation into migrant children kept in long-term custody by the U.S. government, Reveal sued the federal government to find evidence that the government held refugee children in custody for far longer than was previously known, including one girl who was held for more than six years even though her family was ready to take her in. All told, Reveal found, the government held nearly 1,000 migrant children for longer than one year since fall 2014. This investigation won the IRE FOI Award and the Hillman Prize for Web Journalism.
  • In “American Rehab,” a 2020 serial podcast, Reveal showed how U.S. drug rehabilitation facilities built their business model on using unpaid labor from their participants. The investigation led to federal and class-action lawsuits and a Government Accountability Office investigation,[39] and won an IRE Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a Gerald Loeb Award.
  • The tell-tale hearts (2020) exposed how unborn babies’ hearts are at risk from the use of trichloroethylene (TCE). The investigation exposed how the Trump administration bowed to chemical companies’ 20-year efforts to debunk the solid science linking the dangerous chemical to fetal heart defects. As a result of CIR’s reporting, the EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals called for an investigation, and New York passed a bill[40] banning TCE.
  • Behind the Smiles” is a multi-part investigation, ongoing since 2019, into the consequences of Amazon’s relentless drive for domination. It uncovered Amazon’s workplace safety crisis[41] and how the company profoundly misled the public, press and lawmakers about it.[42] The reporting has also shown how the company failed to protect user and business data,[43] resulting in serious data security incidents that affected customers and small businesses. The investigation won the IRE Award in Radio/Audio, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best in Business Award, and a Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.
  • In 2018, Reveal’s “Kept Out” investigation uncovered how modern-day redlining continues to exist in communities across the country. Based on an analysis of 31 million mortgage loan records, the reporters found evidence that banks continued to discriminate against Latino and African American homeowners across the country. The investigation won the duPont Award, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in TV Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Social Media, and a George Peabody Award. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.
  • The Office of Missing Children” (2018) is an acclaimed animated video that provided the unique perspective of a child and mother who were forcibly separated under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. Built on Reveal’s immigration reporting, the video is a Vimeo staff pick and won the Animayo International Film Festival Social Awareness Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Feature Reporting, and the National Headliner Award for Online Video.
  • Heroin(e)” is a 2017 Netflix documentary that follows three women working to break the cycle of drug abuse in Huntington, West Virginia, where the overdose rate is 10 times the national average. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary Short Subject.
  • Rape on the Night Shift” (2015), a joint investigation by Reveal, Frontline, Univision, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and KQED, uncovered the sexual abuse of immigrant women who “clean the malls where you shop, banks where you do business, and offices where you work.” The documentary won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Online Investigative Reporting, the IRE Award for Broadcast/Video, and the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California Chapter award for Investigative Reporting in TV/video.
  • The Dark Side of the Strawberry” is a 2014 series that used data, government documents, and community engagement to expose the dangerous pesticides required to grow strawberries to meet market demand. The investigation was awarded the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism award from the Online News Association.
  • In “The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden…Is Screwed”, published in 2013 by Esquire, Phil Bronstein interviews the Navy SEAL officer about being sent to kill Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden and how that mission reshaped his life.


  1. ^ Arias, Rob (19 May 2014). "A Conversation with the Center for Investigative Reporting Chairman Phil Bronstein". The E'ville Eye Community News. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Merger of Mother Jones, The Center for Investigative Reporting Is Official". Reveal News. February 1, 2024. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c "Contact Us: Center for Investigative Reporting". Archived from the original on 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  4. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (February 28, 2024). "Center for Public Integrity Weighs Merger or Shutdown Amid Dire Financial Straits". New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "CIR History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Our History - The Center for Investigative Reporting". Archived from the original on 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  7. ^ "Bergman". Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  8. ^ "CIR Facts" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  9. ^ "About Us". Reveal. 2015-01-09. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  10. ^ Dowie, Mark; Foster, Douglas; Marshall, Carolyn; Weir, David; King, Jonathan (June 1982), The Illusion of Safety, retrieved 4 January 2013
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2013-01-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Encore Presentation: Reasonable Doubt". CNN Presents. 5 November 2000. CNN.
  13. ^ Robert John Rosenthal, The Complete Marquis Who’s Who, 8 August 2012
  14. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, The (2014-07-02). "Mark Katches named new editor of The Oregonian and VP of Oregonian Media Group". oregonlive. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  15. ^ Garber, Megan (28 February 2012). "Google and the News, Part 2, 389: The Company Is Co-Hosting a Conference on Investigative Reporting and Tech". The Atlantic. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  16. ^ Sefton, Dru (14 August 2012). "Center for Investigative Reporting, Univision announce partnership". Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  17. ^ "CIR rebrands California Watch, Bay Citizen". 20 May 2013.
  18. ^ Basofin, Pete (5 January 2010). "California Watch Launches with Investigations and Data". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on 8 January 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  19. ^ Langeveld, Martin (5 January 2010). "California Watch: The latest entrant in the dot-org journalism boom". Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  20. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (27 March 2012). "It's official: Bay Citizen, Center for Investigative Reporting will merge". The Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  21. ^ Fost, Dan (29 March 2012). "Merger Likely to Mean Major Shift in Bay Citizen Coverage". The Bay Citizen. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  22. ^ McAthy, Rachel (2 August 2012). "Investigative news channel 'The I Files' launches on YouTube". Mousetrap Media. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  23. ^ Ferenstein, Gregory (1 August 2012). "YouTube Gets An Investigative News Channel". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  24. ^ Walton, Gianna (12 April 2012). "CIR announces new YouTube channel for investigative journalism". World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  25. ^ "PRX » Group » Reveal". PRX - Public Radio Exchange. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  26. ^ Roderick, Kevin (16 February 2012). "Morning Buzz". LA Observed. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  27. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (16 February 2012). "CIR's plan for MacArthur million". The Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  28. ^ Berton, Justin (16 February 2012). "Berkeley group gets $1 million journalism grant". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  29. ^ 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
  30. ^ "Kept Out". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  31. ^ "Monumental Lies". The Peabody Awards. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  32. ^ "The 90th Academy Awards | 2018". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 15 April 2019. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  33. ^ "Finalist: Staff of California Watch, Berkeley". Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2023-02-23.
  34. ^ "Finalist: California Watch, Berkeley, Calif". Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2023-02-23.
  35. ^ Finalist: Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting October 4, 2017
  36. ^ Finalist: Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, Emeryville, Calif. (in collaboration with Associated Press, PRX and the PBS NewsHour
  37. ^ "Staff of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting". Pulitzer Prizes. 2020-11-25. Archived from the original on 2020-05-04. Retrieved 2023-02-23.
  38. ^ Ehrlich, Andrea Marks,Elisabeth Garber-Paul,Brenna; Marks, Andrea; Garber-Paul, Elisabeth; Ehrlich, Brenna (2021-12-07). "The 10 Best Crime Podcasts of 2021". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-03-07.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  39. ^ "At Warren and Baldwin Request, Independent Watchdog Agrees to Investigate Mandatory Work Requirements at Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Facilities Receiving Federal Funding | U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts". Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  40. ^ "Kaminsky's Bill To Ban Harmful Uses of Carcinogen TCE Signed Into Law". NY State Senate. 2021-01-20. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  41. ^ "Prime labor: Dangerous injuries at Amazon warehouses". Reveal. 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  42. ^ "How Amazon hid its safety crisis". Reveal. 2020-09-29. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  43. ^ Evans, Will (2021-11-18). "Inside Amazon's Failures to Protect Your Data: Internal Voyeurs, Bribery Scandals and Backdoor Schemes". Reveal. Retrieved 2022-03-07.

External links[edit]