As an investigative news organization, 100Reporters measures success by its ability to break important stories that are picked up by other media outlets, by the recognition of our peers and the public, by the power of our stories to deepen understanding and accountability, and by the change our reporting helps bring about.

Since its launch in 2011, 100Reporters’ work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune/CNN Money, The Huffington Post, PRI, and other world-renowned media organizations. Our award-winning reports have reached more than 29 million readers and viewers through partnerships with commercial news organizations, and have led to additional media investigations, government actions, and corporate concessions.

Here are a few examples:

Packing the House: How Nouri al-Maliki’s Election Tricks May Doom Iraq

Writing under a pseudonym for reasons of security, Iraqi reporter Rasha Kelani documented the use of bogus land titles to win parliamentary seats for allies and relatives of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Some of the deeds had only the voters’ names and cities, but no designated plot of land. That, they were led to believe, would come only if Maliki’s candidates were elected.

  • This report was a pilot project of 100Reporters, to test how we could work with non-English speaking indigenous reporters to produce solid, well-written investigative reports for a global audience.
  • Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism awarded this story a prize for Best Investigation of 2014 (2nd place).

Syrian Refugees: Uprooted and Out of School

In September 2014, 100Reporters’ Xanthe Ackerman reported on Turkey’s failure to grant Syrians fleeing their civil war official refugee status–a seemingly bureaucratic designation with significant consequences for stateless people on the ground. Ackerman reported on the harsh realities behind the exemplary camps and state-of-the-art facilities Turkey offered for some 220,000 refugees amassed along the border with Syria. Ackerman, an education scholar formerly at the Brookings Institution, reported from the border and from makeshift schools in Turkey’s cities. Some 325,000 children were out of school, their parents unable to work because they were not recognized as refugees.

  • Ackerman’s story was picked up by regional websites and the website of Hurriyet, a leading Turkish daily paper, and made its way into the hands of global advocacy organizations and government officials.
  • Two months later, Amnesty International issued a scathing report on the status of Syrian refugees in Turkey, based in part on Ackerman’s reporting, which led to further coverage of the issue by the British press.
  • In late December 2014, Turkey granted Syrians refugee status, giving them the right to attend school and seek employment in Turkey.

Ackerman’s work illustrates the power of quality journalism to help bring about meaningful change.

Pest Control: Syngenta’s Secret Campaign to Discredit Atrazine’s Critics

Drawing on a Freedom of Information Act request and the dogged efforts of 100Reporters’ Clare Howard, 100Reporters exposed a corporate “dirty tricks” campaign by the makers of a popular weed killer, atrazine, used on 80 percent of the corn grown in the United States.

  • 100Reporters co-published the story with the Environmental Health News, earning revenue and reaching 203,376 page views in just the first three days. Mother Earth Network picked up the story (9 million unique visits a month), as did Grist, BioNews and other sites.
  • Extensive feature in the Feb. 10, 2014 New Yorker (10.9 million readers per month, 55,700 Facebook shares for story so far) credited 100Reporters with originally reporting the story.
  • The story was further picked up by National Public Radio’s All Things Considered (11 million listeners a week), Democracy Now (514,000 listeners a month, 43,000 Facebook likes), Scientific American (530,000 readers) and many other outlets.

When Protectors Turn Predators

Beginning with a tip from a whistleblower, this multi-media series took a tough look at sexual exploitation and assault by United Nations forces in Haiti, and the fatherless children UN forces left behind. While only 7 percent of UN forces worldwide are stationed in Haiti, they represent 26 percent of sexual assault accusations.

  • PRI’s The World  featured an initial story on the fatherless children UN forces leave behind in Haiti, done in partnership with 100Reporters. A second story, on the rape of a mentally handicapped boy by successive waves of Pakistani peacekeepers, was also featured on The World’s website and broadcast.
  • The full investigative report on sexual exploitation and assault by peacekeepers in Haiti launched on Jan. 12, the five-year anniversary of the earthquake, and examined how the diplomatic immunity the UN enjoys has led to impunity and serial victimization of the very people UN forces were sent to help.

Tainted Waters

Tainted Waters, which debuted as an iBook, unfolds in Sinjar, Iraq, where American reconstruction aid that should have insured clean drinking water for people was instead lost to corruption, leading to kidney disease 15 times more frequently than elsewhere in the province. The report paints an intimate portrait of the frustration over corruption and government neglect that left Sinjar on the edge of an abyss, ahead of the Islamic State’s brutal takeover last summer.

SD Indians Sue for Early Voting and Native Americans Sue Over Montana Voting

These articles exposed unequal access to early voting and polling stations for Native Americans in South Dakota and Montana that was effectively suppressing voter turnout.

  • Following our stories in early 2012, voters on four South Dakota Sioux reservations—Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek and Rosebud—voted on their homelands and/or for the same amount of time as other South Dakotans for the first time ever.
  • In 2012, turnout in Buffalo County, SD, home of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, rose 18.6 points, to 74.3 percent from 55.7 percent in 2008. In Dewey County, home of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, turnout was up 7.6 points, to 62.1 percent from 54.5 percent in 2008. Turnout statewide that year was down more than 3.3 points from the 2008 election, making these increases even more significant.
  • In Montana, a federal judge ruled that a suit over early voting by three Native Americans can go forward, rejecting the state’s bid for dismissal.

Rough Justice in Indian Child Welfare

This article exposed South Dakota’s retaliation against two whistleblowers, Brandon Talliaferro, a former state prosecutor, and Shirley Schwab, a social worker, who had acted to end the rape of a Native American girl by her white adoptive father. The father is serving 15 years in prison for the rapes, but with millions in federal subsidies at stake, state officials brought criminal charges accusing the whistleblowers of inciting the children to lie.

  • The Lakota People’s Law Project used 100Reporters’ story to build community awareness of the case, drawing Indians to attend the whistleblowers’ trial in large numbers.
  • Three days into the trial, the judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence—only the third time in his 30 years on the bench that he had ever done so.
  • The Native American Journalists’ Association awarded this article first prize for best coverage by a non-Native journalist in 2013.

Downwind: Big Ag at Your Door

This story exposed the threat to public health from aerial spraying of pesticides by big lumber companies.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency ordered urinalysis testing of residents of the site named in the article;
  • A state senator in Illinois circulated the series to every member of the state legislature and passed a resolution to establish a voluntary drift watch network.
  • After dismissing the research cited in the article as “unproven science and scare tactics,” the pesticide maker agreed to an out-of-court settlement in an eight-year class action lawsuit over atrazine in public drinking water. The corporation agreed to pay $105 million to clean up systems in over 1,000 water districts covering six states.
  • The Society of Environmental Journalists’ gave this project its prestigious Kevin J. Carmody Award (2nd place).

Mining Copper, Burying Truth and Fast Track Past Red Flags

In 2012, ENRC, a multi-national mining company, had successfully intimidated the British press into not reporting on suspected corruption in a mining deal with Democratic Republic of Congo, using the threat of legal action. 100Reporters published two stories on the case, facing down similar legal threats from the company.

  • 100Reporters’ coverage freed the UK press to resume its watchdog function and report on this important issue. Two weeks after 100Reporters published its story, The (U.K.) Independent reported on the case, citing the 100Reporters story. The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, BBC and other commercial news outlets followed.
  • In April 2013 the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into the mining deal and the U.S. Justice Department joined the investigation in July 2013.
  • ENRC publicly admitted that it had been “less than transparent” in its dealings with shareholders;
  • ENRC’s chairman resigned.
  • The company delisted from the London stock exchange.

In 2014, 100Reporters began producing immersive and multi-media reports aimed primarily at appearing on the 100Reporters website. Now, 100Reporters is reaching out to its audience directly, delivering fearless news that holds the powerful to account directly to citizens around the world.

Top photo: Syrian children play outside a disused house in the Fikirtepe area of Istanbul. From “Uprooted and Out of School,” published September 2014.


More From the Series

More From the Series

Fitah, 32, Somalia
Fitah has been a refugee for ten years but has only been in Brazil for a few months. After leaving his home country in 2007 due to the civil war, he went to South Africa, where he stayed until March 2017. Paying $4,000 USD to smugglers in Johannesburg, he managed to enter Brazil posing as a South African refugee. He wanted to travel on to the United States, but the “travel package” offered by his smugglers only gave him two options, Turkey or Brazil. He chose the latter.

Afonso, 28, Congo
Upstairs in one of the big bedrooms of the Scalabrinian Mission Afonso, a 28-year-old migrant from Congo, explained how he came from Kinshasa in 2015 by boat, escaping from the violent conflicts raging in his own country. He hired the service of smugglers and came on a cargo ship with a number of others. He paid for part of the trip by working on the ship. He was left in the coast of Santos, a city 55km away from Sao Paulo. He is now searching for a job.

“K.”, 39, Sierra Leone
At Caritas, a non-profit providing support to refugees and migrants, we met “K” (who asked not to reveal his full name), who had left Sierra Leone three months ago. His grandfather was a chief priest of a secret society for whom it is a tradition to initiate the oldest son of the family when the former elder dies. A Christian and a graduate in Information Technology, “K” refused to take part in the ritual and says he was then targeted. He fled to stay with family in the interior of the country, but was kidnapped and held captive in the forest. One night he managed to escape to the city and met a woman from a Christian organization which provided airplane tickets so he could leave immediately for Brazil.

Jorge, 25, Guinea-Bissau
Jorge is a trained engineer who came to Brazil two years ago, who is now selling counterfeit and smuggled clothes in a local market. His Brazilian girlfriend is now pregnant and he is waiting for a work permit in order to get a job as mason. He said that when Federal Police went to his home address to confirm he was living there - an essential step in the process of issuing a work visa to a migrant - his house mates thought they wanted to arrest him and denied he lived there. It delayed his chance of getting a permit that would allow him a legal and better-remunerated job. The lack of trust in Brazilian law enforcement is a huge issue among refugees and migrants, many say that they rarely provide help or support, but instead only make their lives more difficult.

Abu, 37, Senegal
In República Square in the downtown Centro neighbourhood, African migrants sell clothes - some of them counterfeit designer wear,, some not - and handicrafts. Abu, 37, from Thiès in western Senegal, came to Brazil in 2010 with the hope that World Cup would make Brazil a prosperous country and offer him a new life. He says migrants should be respected for having the courage to leave everything behind and restart from nothing. Discrimination and lack of jobs are an issue for Abu, so he says his plan now is to save money and go to Europe as soon as possible. When he first arrived, he had money to stay in a hotel for seven days. After that, he met people who got him a job as a street vendor for contraband and traditional Senegalese clothes sewn in Brazil with African fabrics. Every time the police come and seize the goods he sells, it can take up to five months to recover the money lost.

Ibrahim, 41, Senegal
Members of the Senegalese community gather in República Square every week for a party, mounting up their own sound system, bringing drums and singing. On the night we visit around 50 people were dancing and chanting traditional Senegalese songs. Later they take a seat and discuss issues important to the community. Ibrahim, one of the group, has a talent for sewing fake Nike and Adidas logos to clothing in an improvised atelier nearby. Although he is a professional tailor and prefers to dedicate his time to his own original work, he says financial pressures meant he was forced to join the market of counterfeit designer-label clothing.

Guaianazes street, downtown Sao Paulo

On Rua Guaianazes there is a run-down mosque on the second floor of an old and degraded building, which is frequented by many African migrants. Outside, the smell of marijuana and cheap crack is inebriating. Crowds gather on the streets in front of the packed bars, while different people ask us if we want cheap marihuana. We enter one bar that has literally no chairs or tables: there is a poster of Cameroon’s most famous footballer Samuel Eto’o on the wall, and a big snooker table in the centre while all around customers gamble, argue and smoke. The bar tender tells us it is a Nigerian bar, but that it is frequented by Africans of all nationalities. Among the offers of cheap marijuana, crack and cocaine, laughs, music and loud chat, you can barely hear to the imam's call. Rua Guaianazes is considered to be the heart of Cracolandia, a territory controlled by organized crime for more than a decade and now reportedly home to some African-led drug trafficking gangs.

Santa Efigenia neighbourhood
Santa Efigenia is an area of around ten street blocks in the heart of the Centro area where locals says you “won't find anything original product or any product that entered the country legally”. There are dozens of galleries with local merchants, migrants and hawkers selling their wares, and crowds shouting and grabbing to sell counterfeit and contraband electronics late in the night. When we visited, a homeless old man was setting a campfire out of trash to heat himself on the corner, the people passing by aggressively yelling at him due to the black smoke his improvised urban survival mechanism was generating.

“H”, 42, Angola
“H” is an Angolan woman now living in a house rented from the Baptist church. The area outside the house is a “boca de fumo” - an open drug dealing spot managed by armed guards. “H’s” house is annexed to the church building itself, and is very rustic and simple. She arrived a year ago with two of her children, and also pregnant. She says that after the family of the Angolan president took over the market of smuggled goods in her country, her small import business started to crumble. Her husband and two more daughters are still there. She is currently unemployed, but happy that her young son is studying, although often he comes home complaining about racism at school. “H” does not want him to play with the neighbourhood children, she is afraid he will be drawn to narco-trafficking if he gets in with the wrong crowd. In the long run, she wants to go back to Angola, but only under “a different political situation.”

Lalingé restaurant, Sao Paulo
Arami, the owner of the bustling restaurant Lalingé – which means “The Princess” in her language – has been in Brazil for seven years. She opened the restaurant a year ago so that the African community in the Centro neighbourhood has a place to gather and eat food from their continent. It’s the kind of place people arrive at any time of the night or day, order their food and chat.

Scalabrinian Mission, Canindé neighbourhood
The Scalabrinian Mission in the neighborhood of Canindé provides philanthropic aid to migrants. Soror Eva Souza, the director, says they have helped people from Africa (Angola, Congo, Guinea, Togo, Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, British Guyana, Somalia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Uganda), North Africa and the Middle East (Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt), Asia (Cambodia, South Korea, the Philippines, Bangladesh), Europe (The Netherlands, Russia, France) and Latin America and the Caribbean (Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Haiti, Cuba). The Mission provides housing, food, clothing, medication and facilities for migrants. They only receive a small amount of financial support from local government, but work to help migrants find a job so they can live independently. Souza says many of those who arrive at the house are ill: some are seriously injured, others sick from the journey or the conditions they were living in before arriving in Sao Paulo. Since 2015, she says she has seen  human trafficking and slavery victims, drug mules, political refugees, and people who have lost their families en route. When we visit 40-year-old Mohamed Ali, from Morocco, was trying to find a job with the support of the Mission.

Clement Kamano, 24, Guinea-Conakry
Kamano was studying Social Sciences at Université Général Lansana Conté when he took part in the protests of September 28th, 2009, which ended up in a massacre with more than 150 people killed. Afterwards, he was repeatedly harassed because of his involvement in social movements. Fearing he might be killed, his father bought him a ticket to Brazil. Now he is a political refugee, who is almost fluent in Portuguese, and who enjoys talking about the sociologist-philosophers Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, even Leibniz and Nietzsche. He is currently applying to join a federal university in Sao Paulo.

What’s “cereza” in Arabic?
In a bright classroom in the centre of Quito, a group of students sit around a whiteboard. “Yo veo la televisión con mis amigos en la tarde,” they repeat after the teacher, “I watch television with my friends in the afternoon.” “Yo tomo el bus par ir al trabajo,” “I take the bus to go to work.”

Around the table are two Syrians who fled the war, one Cameroonian who says he wanted to escape the Anglo-French conflict in his homeland, two Afghans, one a former top-ranking police officer, an Egyptian and a Sri Lankan who wanted to go anywhere where he could make enough money to help his family. Migrants who arrive in Ecuador from Africa, Asia and the Middle East face a steep learning curve: it might be relatively easy to enter the country, thanks to Ecuador’s liberal open-border policy, but finding work here and learning Spanish can be difficult. Today their teacher is translating between Arabic, Spanish and English. “Market”? asks one. “Souk” replies another member of the group, while a fellow student does a quick translation into Pashtu.

Experts say some of those who come through language centres like these are planning on continuing their journey north, others on staying in Ecuador.

A little piece of Nigeria, in Quito
As the night closes in, Grace, a 25-year-old law graduate from Cameroon, dashes between a barbeque out on the street and the kitchen in the small Nigerian restaurant where she is working the night shift, as a television showing an African football league plays in the background. She wears a dark top, and her hair pulled back, as she fans the tilapia grilling on the coals. When she was denied a Canadian visa, despite having a scholarship, she decided she still wanted to leave Cameroon, where she complains of a lack of jobs and opportunities for the country’s English-speaking minority. With three friends, she bought a ticket heading west for Ecuador where she heard she could enter with her invitation to study at a language school. She soon converted to a missionary visa, and now works here and sings in the choir at a church up the hill, teaching Sunday school at the weekends. Like many of her customers, she also wants to travel north to the US or Canada, but only with the correct papers. “If you go without papers and through the jungle, you might be lost. Then my family is lost as well.”

The Afghan police officer
Asadullah, a former police officer, spent 31 years training new recruits and fighting terrorist groups in his country. Among the documents he smuggled out with him is a photograph of him with Robert Gates, the former US Secretary of Defence, paperwork from a training programme at the National Defence University in Washington DC, and training certificate from the George C Marshall centre in Europe, signed by the German defence minister.

His career had been high-profile and illustrious, but while that brought recognition from the Americans and their allies, it also brought him the unwelcome attention of the Taliban and other extremist groups.

For three years before he fled, he says terrorists were calling him saying he needed to end his work with the police. “Come and work with us,” they’d coax. When he refused, someone tried to throw acid on his child at school – that was when he decided to leave.

Today the family are renting a spacious flat in central Quito, with a big beige sofa and swept wood floors. A big TV is mounted on the wall behind him, and one of his children brings in sweet tea and fruits. His wife and six of his children are with him, awaiting a decision from the migration authorities on their asylum case. For the sake of his children – who all speak English – Asadullah wants to go to the US.

“I want to go to America, but it’s a process: it will take a lot of time,” he says. “We have been waiting to get an answer. I only came here because the bad people wanted to kill us. I’m just here so I’m safe.” He considered going to Europe, but considered the route there more dangerous. “Many Afghan people wanted to go to Europe, to Turkey, but many people died in the sea.”

The Artist
Mughni Sief’s paintings once made him a well-known artist in his native Syria: he taught fine art in a top university, and was invited to Lebanon to show his work. But since the war, and his decision to flee, his paintings have taken on a darker tone. One , “Even The Sea Had A Share Of Our Lives, It Was Tough” touches on the horrors so many Syrians have seen as they try to flee to safety.

“This painting is about Syrians crossing the sea to go to Europe from Turkey. I put this fish head and cut the head off to show the culture of ISIS. This here is the boat people,” he explains in his spartan apartment in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. “Syria was empty of people, and there are so many people dying in the sea.”

From the windows of his bedroom-come-studio, you can see the mountains, washing hanging in the sunshine on a neighbours balcony, beige tiles. Behind him the bed sheets – which came with the house – are adorned with images of teddy bears and the phrase “happy day.”

In the corner is a small, rolling suitcase in which he brought his wood carving tools, crayons, and charcoals from Syria: everything from his old life that he dared bring without alerting attention that he was leaving the country. In a small backpack he bought a Frederick Nietshce paperback, a birthday present from a friend, and a book he bought in Syria: “Learn Spanish in 5 days”. He didn’t bring any photos, in case his bag was searched.

Frustrated by restrictions he faced as a Syrian in Lebanon, he started to research other places where he might make a new start. He read that Ecuador was “one of the few countries that don't ask for a visa from Syrians. I had problems leaving Lebanon, and in El Dorado in Colombia but at Quito I came in no problem. The only question was: why are you coming to Ecuador, do you have money? I said nothing about asking for asylum so they just gave me a tourist visa.”

Soon after he made his asylum application, and today, he paints while he waits for a decision. “Before the war I was focused just on humans, on women, but when the war started that changed, and I began focusing on the miserable life that we live in Syria,” he says as he arranges three paintings on the bed. In one, he explains, is a woman who can’ face something in her life, so prefers to stop speaking.

Although many of the migrants that make their way to Ecuador are able to travel more independently than those making the journey across the Mediterranean, examples abound of exploitation of some who arrive here. Mohammad, for example. He’s  a 24-year-old from Sri Lanka who first tried his luck in Malaysia, but was cheated by a travel fixer who took his money while promising him a work visa that never materialized. When he was arrested for working without the proper documents, a friend had to come and pay the police to get him out. Travelling west, to Ecuador, after religious violence broke out in his hometown, he says he paid someone he knows to help sort out his travel, unsure of how much he took as a cut. When he flew in, alongside a Sri Lankan family, the agent arranged for him to be picked up by an unknown woman who charged each of them again to take them to a hostel. He is now renting a room from a man he met at the mosque. Every day continues to be a struggle, he said.

“At home, I saw so many troubles each day. I decided to come here thinking maybe things will be good. But I did one week working in a restaurant, they treated me like a slave. For three months I was searching for work. They are good people here but I have no opportunities here. Seven months I have nothing, I’m wasting my time.”

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