How CIR is helping localize our reporting on veterans’ wrongful deaths

UPDATE, April 30, 2014: The Chicago Tribune has been added as a regional partner.

Whenever we get our hands on a good dataset here at The Center for Investigative Reporting, we try to identify and encourage opportunities for other journalists and media partners to use the information as well. Our thinking: The more stories that are told about a particular issue – and the more relevant those stories are to the communities most affected by that issue – the greater the chance for change.

CIR’s veterans coverage has been particularly fruitful for collaboration and localization. Dozens of media outlets have used our data on both the Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability claims backlog and its rise in opiate prescriptions to craft stories for their local audiences. And all that coverage has helped produce results. About a year ago, we found that veterans’ wait times were particularly decreasing in areas where media outlets picked up CIR’s reporting on the disability claims backlog.

With new stories, we’re continuing to experiment with our distribution model to find new ways to get the information we uncover to media outlets and individuals across the country and inform a national dialogue.

Most recently, CIR reporter Aaron Glantz’s look at the $200 million in wrongful death payments made by the VA in the decade after 9/11 has been another opportunity for localization. Because the data we obtained included cases at VA hospitals across the country, it was a natural for localization. The interactive map we built makes it easy for anyone to see examples locally.

For this investigation, we created unique versions of the story that included local angles for partners, so they could make the story more relevant for their audiences. Along with our national partner, The Daily Beast, and our regular California media partners, Glantz identified areas where he had specific documents on cases. He inserted local anecdotes into his national narrative for outlets in those regions. Here’s a list of partners that ran our full story:

But we’re not stopping there. We’ve also been working with individual reporters to dig deeper into the data, providing documents and case files that we uncovered for them to use in their own reporting. Below, check out some of the outlets where our reporting and data on the VA’s wrongful death payments has appeared, including media appearances by Glantz. We’ll be updating this list as more outlets use and highlight our work.

Want to use our data or stories? Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or want to learn more. You can email me at or give me a call at 510-809-3160, ext. 365.



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