Tag Archives: investigative reporting

The Trump Whisperer: A Conversation with Washington Post Reporter David Fahrenthold

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Fahrenthold (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Cody Delistraty | Longreads | September 2017 | 8 minutes (2193 words)

 

Before David Fahrenthold won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for covering Trump’s candidacy, he spoke to the then-candidate on the phone last May. Trump called Fahrenthold “a nasty guy.”

One of Fahrenthold’s most impressive journalistic pursuits came after that conversation, when he began to investigate Trump’s charitable giving. Trump had long made loud claims about his charitable donations, but Fahrenthold discovered that although Trump claimed to have donated millions of dollars spread among 400 charities, very few of those charities had any record of Trump’s supposed contributions.

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Longreads Best of 2016: Investigative Reporting

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in investigative reporting.

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Francesca Mari
Senior Editor at The California Sunday Magazine.

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard (Shane Bauer, Mother Jones)

Hands down the best reporting I read all year is Shane Bauer’s “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard.” Bauer applied for a job at the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana; though, let’s be real, as you’ll learn from the piece, applications are hardly necessary. Winn, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the company that basically invented private prisons in the eighties, pretty much begged him to come onboard. After all, the pay is $9 an hour, the shifts are twelve hours long, and only some one-third of hires stick around. Bauer’s piece gets readers up to speed on the history of private prisons and their ubiquity today and takes readers deep into the particulars of the understaffed hellhole that is Winn–a place in which the guards, having so little support, are left to negotiate their own rules with prisoners. Bauer’s portrait of the prison community–and it is a community–is rich, illuminating without being condescending, in part because Bauer is, to some extent, a participant. Here’s a taste of an exchange between Bauer’s 19-year-old coworker, a kid all too keen to demonstrate his power named Collinsworth, and a prisoner he won’t deign to talk to:

“The best thing you could do is get to know people in the place.”
“I understand it’s your home,” Collinsworth says. “But I’m at work right now.”

“It’s your home for 12 hours a day! You trippin’. You ’bout to do half my time with me. You straight with that?”

“It’s probably true.”

“It ain’t no ‘probably true.’ If you go’ be at this bitch, you go’ do 12 hours a day.” He tells Collinsworth not to bother writing up inmates for infractions: “They ain’t payin’ you enough for that.” Seeming torn between whether to impress me or the inmate, Collinsworth says he will only write up serious offenses, like hiding drugs.

The Architect Who Became a Diamond (Alice Gregory, The New Yorker)

First of all–mini spoiler alert–you can make a diamond out of someone’s ashes! That’s just one of the odd little twists in Alice Gregory’s nail-biter about the most unlikely of nail-biter subjects–an architect’s archive. The architect in question is the very on-trend (and truly talented) Luis Barragán, who designed geometric buildings with vivid colors throughout Mexico. And the problem is that a Swiss manufacturing family owns his archive. The woman in that family for whom the archive was bought is determined to carefully catalog his work herself and protect his legacy and so she has refused to grant anyone access to his archive for the last two decades. This story is about a contemporary artist’s clever plot to persuade her otherwise. Gregory’s excellent structuring lends suspense and urgency to questions about how to best maintain a virtuoso’s legacy. Who should be allowed access to his archives and who should determine who should be allowed access? Read more…

Longreads Best of 2015: Investigative Reporting

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in investigative reporting.

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Lauren Kirchner
Senior Reporting Fellow at ProPublica.

The Price of Nice Nails (Sarah Maslin Nir, The New York Times)

I can’t remember another investigation that had as much widespread and immediate impact as this one. Through a year of persistent and patient reporting, Nir uncovered the ugly truth of New York’s nail salon industry: the labor exploitation, institutionalized racism, and dire health risks faced by its manicurists. It was an explosive story, but Nir told it with restraint. When this came out, everyone I knew was talking about it. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio both pretty much immediately launched emergency task forces and investigations to address the problems Nir described. Reforms continue to roll out for salon owners who put their workers at risk.

But I noticed a subtler impact, too: some real soul-searching among New Yorkers about the ethics of indulging in cheap luxuries—for many of us, the only luxuries we can afford. A lot of readers were asking themselves, how could we have not have seen it? “We hold hands with this person for a half hour; we look into her eyes,” as Nir later put it. “I think my investigation revealed that we are not seeing them.” Read more…