IMPACT: With local journalism on life support, SpotlightDC provides direct funding to investigative reporters pursuing untold, groundbreaking stories that can prompt reform and hold the powerful to account.
Following its ground-breaking reporting on DC’s Heat Islands, Hola Cultura used a SpotlightDC award to create a multi-part podcast giving voice to DC residents surviving in the District’s hottest communities. Aired August 2022 by WTOP and WAMU.
In hopes of aiding the environment, we separate trash our into bins: garbage and refuse in one; cardboard, newspaper, glass and plastic in another – and we feel better, expecting stuff in one bin destined for reuse, perhaps even wearing shoes one day re-manufactured from our plastic bottles. But an investigation funded by SpotlightDC shows that DC fails to recycle, from collection and separation to monitoring and enforcing rules.
Is the District covering up infant homicides and letting their killers go unpunished? Facts revealed in Jonetta Rose Barras’ four-part investigative series point to failures that allow abuse and murder of vulnerable children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SpotlightDC won the Institute for Nonprofit News Best Investigative Journalism Award. 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.