Capital City Fund For Investigative Journalism

OUR MISSION:

To foster investigative journalism in the DC region by raising funds and awarding grants to journalists pursuing game-changing projects in the public interest.

OUR IMPACT:

A year from our launch, articles funded by SpotlightDC have closed loopholes that allowed landlords to evict tenants without notice; focused council oversight on “sweetheart deals” with trash companies; prompted judges to review “unconstitutional” detaining of unindicted defendants.

OUR AWARDS:

Projects funded by SpotlightDC are Finalists for the Livingston and Gerald Loeb Award and have been nominated for prizes by Institute for Nonprofit News, Alt-Weekly and IRE.

Facing Massive Evictions, DC Tenants At Mercy of Predatory System

Loopholes allowed landlords to throw tenants out without alerting them, in violation of basic legal rights and DC Council laws to protect tenants from unlawful eviction.

Digging into data, interviewing tenants, quoting advocates and attorneys, Josh Kaplan investigated and proved fraud in the system. DCist published the piece on October 5, 2020; the DC Council closed the loopholes the next day.

Kaplan’s piece is a Finalist for Livingston and Gerald Loeb Awards.

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Dying in DC Heat Islands

DC’s poor reside in neighborhoods where temperatures can rise 20 degrees higher than more leafy, elite regions of the District. How much do they suffer in the heat islands?
Hola Cultura, a Latino-focused nonprofit, used maps supported by interviews and research to present a city divided not just by race and income but by climate that can affect health outcomes, education and crime. Its three-part series was published August 2021 by Washington City Paper.

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Murder In A Safe Place

Who Killed Sherry Crandell?
Threading together fresh evidence and interviews with family, detectives and DNA experts, veteran crime reporter Paul Wagner weaves a compelling narrative that drives his 8-part podcast about a nurse found dead in Prince Georges Hospital Center in 1998. WTOP presented Wagner’s podcast with Apple in its American Nightmare; the ninth segment might unveil the killer.

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Jury Suspension Strands DC Jail Defendants

The wheels of justice in DC’s Superior Court nearly ground to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving defendants in jail without charges or recourse.
In a four-part series published by Capital Community News and Hill Rag April-June 2021, Gavrielle Jacobovitz investigated and examined how DC’s criminal justice system was adjusting – or failing to adjust – to pressures caused by the pandemic.

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SpotlightDC Launches with Publication of its First Funded Investigative Project: “Waste Mismanagement”

Why are sweetheart deals costing DC taxpayers millions in subsidies to big trash haulers?

It required months of digging into documents and FOIA requests for Cuneyt Dil to piece together the narrative of how private trash collectors were reaping millions a year in overpayments by the District’s DPW. Published in July 2020, the investigation showed that it cost the District more to process trash brought in by private haulers than they paid to dispose of it in “tipping fees.” His work forced DPW to raise fees and prompted oversight by the DC council.

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DC Workers Suffering Under Flawed Workers Compensation System

On-the-job injuries often result in compensation for workers in the private sector, but DC workers have suffered for decades at the hands of a flawed system.

Rachel Cohen exposes how a two-track system for handling worker compensation claims puts people working for the DC government at a disadvantage compared to those in the private sector. Her reporting, published October 2020 in Washington City Paper, aired the unequal treatment just as the DC Council was considering reforms.

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