MapLight and The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute have joined the Investigative News Network (INN), increasing the consortium’s reach into data analysis of politics and into social justice reporting. MapLight is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization – based in San Francisco - that reveals money's influence on politics through data analysis. It has already worked with INN members on several journalism projects. The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute "is dedicated to improving the scope and overall quality of investigative reporting in the independent press and beyond." Based in New York City, it supports important and often award-winning investigative stories with the potential for social impact, particularly on issues that may be overlooked by mainstream media.
Orphan earmarks, drugged cops and overmedicated children in foster care: These were the subjects of investigations published by students of Columbia University’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism this past month. USA Today led its Jan. 5 edition with a Stabile Center investigation into how congressional earmarks have cost states $7.5 billion dollars in lost highway funding over the last 20 years. Stabile Center student Cezary Podkul began researching “orphan earmarks” last summer and found over 7,000 congressionally directed highway projects in which the money, or a good portion of it, remains unspent for various reasons. At least 3,600 of these haven’t been spent at all because of typographical or other errors. But states cannot reallocate these unspent earmarks, which are counted against their share of federal highway funds.