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Learn more about the Miami Herald’s Investigative Lab

Investigative Lab

The Miami Herald is launching a new journalism lab that will host the largest team of investigative reporters in our region to expose corruption, identify fraud and reveal exploitation while also covering solutions to problems that impact the quality of life of South Florida residents.

The Miami Herald Investigative Lab is an ambitious effort to greatly expand the organization’s investigative muscle. The Miami Herald’s tradition of holding the powerful accountable and exposing wrongdoing has made it one of the best and most decorated newsrooms in the United States, with 22 Pulitzer Prizes and countless other awards.

From our recent investigation into the sweetheart deal given serial sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein – which led to the resignation of the U.S. Secretary of Labor and a new indictment of Epstein – to stories exposing poor treatment of vulnerable children and corruption in local government, the Herald’s reporting is ambitious and change making. It has an impact in Miami, the state of Florida and beyond.

We will create one of the largest independent investigative teams in the country. This team will call for greater accountability through its reporting, will engage the public, stakeholders and key sources as we create impact here and beyond.

Investigative Journalism Fund

Our goal is to raise $1.5 million for reporting efforts spread over three years. We will launch the Investigative Reporting Lab when we reach $500,000 in support. The fund will nearly double the size of our investigative unit, adding two full-time reporters, a data visualization specialist, a videographer and an editor to our existing resources.

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What we will do

South Florida is a region of great wealth, beauty and promise. For residents and tourists in areas of luxury, it might be possible to believe South Florida’s blue skies and sunshine are a metaphor for universal quality of life.

But that’s not so, and the contrasting realities of the region pose challenges that threaten its future. There is an opportunity for us to build a team that can work collaboratively with existing reporters and dig deep on the following:

Local government corruption: There are more than 60 cities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, many of which are not covered regularly by any news organization. We lack the resources to pursue many of the leads we receive about public corruption - from money changing hands under the table to unsavory election practices. We would devote reporting resources to campaign finance checks, open records requests for communication on key local issues and more.

Fraud: For years, South Florida has been home to the hustle, from land scams to boiler rooms hawking gold futures. In many ways it still is.

Exploitation of the vulnerable: Jeffrey Epstein’s victims deserve to see his operation exposed and the Miami Herald will stay on this story. But there are others who do not have a voice in many corners of our powerful state, from families who lose loved ones to gun violence to children who are denied access to adequate health care. Additional reporters will enable us to do work that will have significant impact, just as Perversion of Justice has and will continue to have.

Environmental challenges: Florida’s fragile ecosystem make our region perhaps the most vulnerable in the country to climate change, from rising seas to escalating temperatures and ever more powerful hurricanes. And the conflict between tourism/development and environmental sensitivity amps up the tension.

Economic mobility: For the past 15 years, Miami has undergone a wrenching evolution from second-tier, regional metro to a true global city. With the benefits there are growing pains, and our region has transformed from a place where a middle income provided a comfortable life for hundreds of thousands of people to a metropolis beset by a housing crisis of alarming breadth and a level of economic inequality that matches that of Colombia. Exposing the continuing causes of this crisis – and finding solutions – requires holding our institutions and leaders accountable.

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Contact editor Casey Frank at cfrank@miamiherald.com.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Do the foundations have any control over what is reported?

Editorial independence has been a core value at the Miami Herald for more than 100 years. We strive to deliver high-impact journalism in the public interest. While we value the support of our funding partners, outside funders have no editorial oversight, approval or influence over the content produced by fund reporters or other members of the Miami Herald newsroom.

Q: What other news organizations have received foundation funding?

The Seattle Times launched an Education Lab years ago that is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and City University of Seattle. The Miami Herald received support from the Rockefeller Foundation to cover Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria. The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and public media such as NPR and PBS have all accepted foundation funding.

Q: Will this effort replace the Miami Herald’s regular reporting on key issues in our community?

No, these are new positions. We will continue to cover local government and breaking news in our community and other areas.

Statement of editorial independence

Editorial independence has been a core value at the Miami Herald for more than 100 years. We strive to deliver high-impact journalism in the public interest. While we value the support and partnership of our funding partners, outside funders will not have any editorial oversight, approval or influence over the content produced by the fellow or other members of the Miami Herald newsroom.

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