Better Government Association: Shining a Light on Government

Better Government Association: Shining a Light on Government

The Better Government Association promotes reform in Illinois through investigative journalism, civic engagement and advocacy. We’re a watchdog, shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable.

Mission and Organization

The BGA works for integrity, transparency, and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the electorate to achieve authentic and responsible reform.

Organization Structure

>> The Investigative Unit looks into allegations of waste, fraud and corruption in city, county, suburban and state government, and the results are made public through partnerships with local media. The BGA’s partners include: The New York Times through the Chicago News Cooperative, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, and the Chicago television affiliates of ABC, CBS and FOX. BGA journalistic investigations are guided by the newly adopted BGA Guidelines for Investigations and Oversight Protocols.

>> The Policy Advocacy Unit builds on the results of the BGA investigations to propose policy solutions to corruption, inefficiency, lack of accountability and waste in government. In 2010, the BGA Policy Unit is focusing on issues such as streamlining government, TIFs and judicial reform.

>> The Citizen Watchdog Training Unit encourages and teaches citizens to monitor and report on their local governments, working with BGA investigators and editors. Trainings will take place throughout the state, particularly in underserved communities.

>> The Citizen Education and Communication Unit is committed to responsible civic engagement by keeping the public informed with reliable facts, in-depth information and thoughtful perspectives. Our newly designed website will serve as the hub of all the organization’s units, information and dialogue. Through traditional media and social media, as well as its website, the BGA reaches hundreds of thousands of citizens to educate them on developments in local and state government, train citizens on techniques for monitoring government activities, provide information for whistleblowers, announce calls-to-action and generate vigorous debate.

>> Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting highlight the importance of investigative journalism in advancing the principles of democracy, especially in today’s climate of crisis in the journalism community. They are presented each fall.

Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI)

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo, or ABRAJI) is one of the world’s leading associations of investigative reporters. Now 10 years old [founded in 2002] with more than 2000 members, ABRAJI has trained thousands of reporters and works to expand freedom of information and protect journalists in Brazil. Each year ABRAJI sponsors Brazil’s investigative journalism congress, which attracts hundreds of journalists and journalism students.

Global Investigative Journalism Network

The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) is an international association of nonprofit organizations that support, promote, and produce investigative journalism. GIJN holds conferences, conducts trainings, provides resources, and encourages the creation of similar nonprofit groups. It was founded in 2003 when more than 300 journalists from around the world gathered for the second Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Copenhagen. Since then it has grown to more than 100 member organizations in 46 countries.

Government Accountability Project

From an interview with Tom Devine conducted by Whistleblower Insider in February 2014:

Whistleblower Insider: What is the Government Accountability Project?

Tom Devine: We’re a non-profit, non-partisan, public interest law firm, legally a 501 (c)(3) organization. Our mission is helping whistleblowers…. The people we help at GAP are individuals using free speech rights to challenge abuses of power that betray the public trust. That’s the way we’ve defined the concept. Overwhelmingly, these are folks who are witnessing abuses of power in their places of employment.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of 185 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.

Founded in 1997 by the respected American journalist Chuck Lewis, ICIJ was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity to extend the Center’s style of watchdog journalism, focusing on issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power. Backed by the Center and its computer-assisted reporting specialists, public records experts, fact-checkers and lawyers, ICIJ reporters and editors provide real-time resources and state-of-the-art tools and techniques to journalists around the world.

Our advisory committee consists of some of the biggest names in investigative journalism worldwide: Bill Kovach, Chuck Lewis, Rosental Calmon Alves, Phillip Knightley, Gwen Lister, Goenawan Mohamad, Reginald Chua and Brant Houston.

Why we exist

The need for such an organization has never been greater. Globalization and development have placed extraordinary pressures on human societies, posing unprecedented threats from polluting industries, transnational crime networks, rogue states, and the actions of powerful figures in business and government.

The news media, hobbled by short attention spans and lack of resources, are even less of a match for those who would harm the public interest. Broadcast networks and major newspapers have closed foreign bureaus, cut travel budgets, and disbanded investigative teams. We are losing our eyes and ears around the world precisely when we need them most.

Our aim is to bring journalists from different countries together in teams – eliminating rivalry and promoting collaboration. Together, we aim to be the world’s best cross-border investigative team.

What we do

ICIJ projects are typically staffed by teams ranging from as few as three to as many as 100-plus reporters spread around the world. These journalists work with counterparts in other countries and with our Washington, D.C., staff to report, edit, and produce groundbreaking multimedia reports that adhere to the highest standards of fairness and accuracy.

Over the years, our teams have exposed smuggling by multinational tobacco companies and by organized crime syndicates; investigated private military cartels, asbestos companies, and climate change lobbyists; and broke new ground by publicizing details of Iraq and Afghanistan war contracts.


Who we work with

To release its findings, ICIJ works with leading news organizations worldwide.  We are always open to new collaborations. Our stories have appeared in more than a dozen languages and with such partners as the BBC, including flagship program Panorama, Le Monde (France), El Mundo (Spain), El Pais (Spain), Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Le Soir (Belgium),  the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Stern (Germany), TheGuardian (UK), The Sunday Times (UK), Proceso (Mexico), the Huffington Post (USA), The Age (Australia),24chasa (Bulgaria), ABC Color Digital (Paraguay), (Venezuela), The Asahi Shimbun (Japan), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (Canada), Center for Investigative Reporting – Investigative Journalism Center (CIN -IJC) (Croatia), CIPER (Chile), Commonwealth Magazine (Hong Kong), El Comercio (Ecuador), El Confidencial (Spain), Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (Finland), Fokus (Sweden), Hetq – Association of Investigative Journalists (Armenia), The Indian Express (India), Isra News Agency (Thailand), The Irish Times (Ireland), Korea Center for Investigative Journalism – Newstapa (South Korea), Kyiv Post (Ukraine), La Nación (Argentina), La Nación (Costa Rica), Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung (Switzerland), L’Espresso (Italy), M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) (South Africa), Malaysia Kini (Malaysia), Ming Pao (Hong Kong), NDR (Germany), New Age (Bangladesh), NEWS (Austria), Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK (Norway), Novaya Gazeta (Russia), Novi Magazin (Serbia), Origo (Hungary), Pak Tribune – Pakistan News Service (Pakistan), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (Philippines), Premium Times (Nigeria), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Azerbaijan), Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism (Romania), Rustavi TV (Georgia), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), The Sunday Times (UK), Ta Nea (Greece), Trouw (Netherlands), The Washington Post (USA)

These unique collaborations have been honored repeatedly. Among ICIJ’s awards: George Polk Award, Overseas Press Club Award, John Oakes Award, Editor and Publisher Award, Society of Professional Journalists, KC Kulish Award and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award.

The Global Muckraker: News from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Investigative News Network

Investigative News Network: In 2009 journalists from 27 nonpartisan, nonprofit news organizations gathered at the Pocantico Center in New York to plan the future of investigative journalism. The result of that meeting, the Pocantico Declaration, established the Investigative News Network and laid a foundation of collaboration among a new cohort of nonprofit newsrooms dedicated to serving the public interest.

Today [October 2014] INN has grown to 100 organizations in North America and soon worldwide. Members share content and resources, connect with professional- and business-development services, and lead the evolving practice of journalism in the public interest.


INN’s mission is to help nonprofit news organizations produce and distribute stories with impact; to achieve cost efficiencies by pooling resources and services; and to develop new revenue streams that will help member organizations become sustainable, mission-driven, nonprofit businesses.

INN facilitates collaborative projects, both within the membership and with external media partners.

We also provide back-office support in technology and infrastructure development; help members share best practices for publishing and distributing content; and a robust communication network to engage our members, our funders and our audiences.

While aiding our active members, we also seek to incubate and foster new nonprofit newsrooms by providing professional development and fiscal-sponsorship services.


The organizations that comprise the network are diverse, with beats that range from the local to the global, and that often explore the intersection of the two. Some cover specific industries and sectors, such as education or healthcare. Others cover communities, from small towns to big cities. All of them use investigative and public-interest reporting to advance their mission.

Their newsrooms are composed of reporters, editors and producers that have been recognized by a constellation of news-industry awards: Pulitzers, Emmys, Peabodys, DuPonts, and laurels from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and many others.

Their high-impact stories have exposed corruption and inspired legal and policy reforms; alerted the public to environmental perils, financial scams and faulty products; and informed communities about the issues of business and government that affect daily life.

Their journalism is delivered in every medium — text, audio, video, digital, broadcast and even print. They are pioneering data journalism, developing and deploying apps, and exploring new methods of community engagement.

The INN members do this work at a time of tectonic shifts in media technology, culture and economy. They do it because journalism’s mission of public service demands nothing less from them. They do it because a viable, sustainable Fourth Estate is essential for healthy democracy.

Membership Requirements

To be a member of INN, an organization must be organized as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or be fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) (such as INN). It also must be transparent about funding sources and produce  investigative and/or public-service reporting. For more information and to apply to become a member, please review our complete membership standards and then submit your application.


INN, and all its members, have a commitment to transparency in funding. All member organizations must display and make available funders who donate over $1,000.

INN thanks its funders and the volunteer efforts of its board and members, without which its work would not be possible. Click to see INN’s financials, including the 2013 Annual Report.

Update: 10 March 2015: INN Is Now the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Investigative Reporters & Editors

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, news-gathering techniques and news sources.

New England Center for Investigative Reporting: A nonprofit news site dedicated to watchdog journalism

New England Center for Investigative Reporting: A nonprofit news site dedicated to watchdog journalism.

About NECIR:

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) is a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom based at Boston University and at the studios of WGBH News. Our mission is to ensure the survival of serious, in-depth investigative journalism in New England and to train a new generation of investigative reporters.

NECIR produces high-quality, high-impact multi-media investigative stories that require time and resources few mainstream news outlets can provide. All of our reporting is done by experienced, professional journalists with the assistance of student researchers.

Through NECIR’s monthly investigative reporting subscription service, called “The Public Eye,” our stories reach about one million readers, viewers and listeners. Our stories appear in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across Massachusetts, New England and the nation.

NECIR training programs include a Summer Investigative Journalism Workshop for high school students which attracts participants from throughout the U.S. and across the globe. This two-week workshop has introduced hundreds of high school students to the field of investigative reporting and has taught them the critical thinking skills necessary for success in college.

NECIR also offers an Investigative Reporting Certificate Program for journalists in the U.S. and from around the world, student internships as well as workshops for professional journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists. Since NECIR’s launch in 2009, the center’s journalists have trained more than 300 aspiring investigative reporters. NECIR also conducts training programs in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

NECIR was founded by Joe Bergantino and Maggie Mulvihill, two veteran Boston journalists. Along with Boston University College of Communication Dean Tom Fiedler, a former Executive Editor and investigative reporter for The Miami Herald, Bergantino and Mulvihill launched NECIR to address the precipitous decline in investigative reporting due—in part– to newsroom downsizing. NECIR now has a staff of nine people including an Executive Director/Managing Editor, three full-time reporters, a Training Manager, a part-time Investigations Editor, a part-time Development Consultant and two student researchers along with several interns. The center is overseen by an Advisory Board that includes prominent journalists, financial experts, business consultants and marketing specialists.

NECIR was at the forefront of a national movement that led to the creation of dozens of nonprofit investigative reporting centers across the U.S. NECIR staff have played a significant role in helping launch many of those newsrooms. NECIR is also a founding member of the Investigative News Network (INN), a national organization dedicated to supporting nonprofit centers.

Out of Balance: An IndyStar investigation into USA Gymnastics

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, Tim Evans, Robert Scheer (Photographer), and Steve Berta (Editor), Out of Balance: An IndyStar investigation into USA Gymnastics. The Indianapolis Star, This series began on Thursday, 4 August 2016. “In March 2016, IndyStar began investigating USA Gymnastics – one of America’s most prominent youth sports organizations, and the governing body for the U.S. Olympic team. The investigation revealed that USA Gymnastics has followed a policy of not reporting all sexual abuse allegations against its coaches. That practice has enabled coaches to continuing preying on children despite repeated warning signs. IndyStar also has revealed a culture within the gymnastics community that has allowed coaches to shift from gym to gym, again despite warnings of inappropriate behavior. The investigation also provided the first comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of the problem, revealing that at least 368 gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse over the past 20 years. IndyStar also brought to light accusations of sexual abuse by the former team doctor [Larry Nassar] for USA Gymnastics. That doctor has since been arrested on charges of criminal sexual conduct and child pornography. USA Gymnastics has hired an attorney to examine its internal practices. That review is ongoing.” Update: Christine Hauser and Maggie Astor, The Larry Nassar Case and What Comes Next, The New York Times,  Thursday, 25 January 2018. “Lawrence G. Nassar, the former physician for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced on Jan. 24 to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes. It capped more than a week of victim impact statements by young women and teenagers who described how, as aspiring athletes, they were sent to Dr. Nassar at gymnastics camps, gyms, his home and the Michigan State University clinic. For decades, he molested athletes under the guise of medical treatment.”

[Read more…]


ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

ProPublica is headquartered in Manhattan. Its establishment was announced in October 2007. Operations commenced in January 2008, and publishing began in June 2008.