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The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism Brandeis University


Why investigative journalism matters

Our democracy is being kept honest, transparent, accountable because of journalists​...who are guardians of our democracy.... Truth is not business, truth is a necessary ingredient in keeping our society together.” – Vartan Gregorian, President Carnegie Foundation; former Brandeis T​ rustee​, Recipient of Brandeis Honorary Degree Award

Journalism and a free press are among the most important human institutions of the modern world. Democracy, civil society, and free markets cannot exist over time without them.” – Lee Bollinger, President, Columbia University The Columbia University Record (2003)

The institutions of the press we have inherited are the result of a mixed system of public and private cooperation. Trusting the market alone to provide all the news coverage we need would mean venturing into the unknown—a risky proposition with a vital public institution hanging in the balance.” – Lee Bollinger, in The Wall Street Journal (2010)

THE SCHUSTER INSTITUTE FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AT BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY A pioneer of Independent, High-impact Journalism Since 2004 The Schuster Institute was founded in 2004 when longtime investigative journalist and editor Florence Graves realized that the business model for investigative reporting was collapsing. As one of the first “new nonprofit” independent journalism centers, the Institute is dedicated to the reporting essential for a healthy democracy.

Our impact journalism strategy. As a small and ambitious outpost,

the Schuster Institute stays focused on journalism that can make a difference, investing only in little-known but potentially major stories. To break out of the media echo chamber, we take our findings public using an “impact journalism” strategy aimed at two primary targets: the concerned public, whom we reach via mass media; and policymakers, corporate executives, regulators, and others who need to know exactly how their decisions are affecting our shared world, reached via “thought-leader” and policy outlets. Here we gather experienced, driven, and highly entrepreneurial journalists who investigate, report, analyze, and comment on unreported and underreported social justice and human rights issues. We devote the time and resources necessary to produce nuanced, credible, and sustained coverage of a variety of human rights and social justice issues, devoting particular attention to those affecting the “Statue of Liberty” populations: those who are poor, immigrants, powerless, voiceless, imprisoned, or forgotten. We do this through dedicated reporting projects; through our interactive, multimedia website; through our innovative “newsroom without walls,” which incorporates our fellowship program, visiting research scholars, paid student researchers and Institute staff. Learning by doing, the students experience the importance and power of painstaking research and careful documentation of every allegation and fact, developing into thoughtful citizens and leaders. Because only a fraction of our research is cited in any individual article, we build targeted websites that host the in-depth resources that inform our findings, including documents received under the Freedom of Information Act, academic and NGO studies, relevant statistics, related news reports, original essays, and other material that brings our findings to life, such as compelling graphics, photography, maps, and videos.

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Our Impact Journalism

Our work has played a crucial role in enacting three new laws and transforming a number of corporate policies–– ultimately, changing the lives of millions of people suffering from human rights and social justice abuses.





The Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, spurred by our multi-year reporting on fraud and corruption in international adoption, put into place one of our proposed solutions: required federal accreditation for every person or agency involved in arranging international adoptions.

Massachusetts Law 278A, Post-Conviction Access to Forensic and Scientific Analysis, passed soon after the Schuster Institute published its 2011 “Failing the DNA Test” Boston Globe Magazine cover story.

In 2014 New Zealand’s parliament banned foreign-flagged vessels from fishing in its waters, effectively prohibiting a form of slavery documented in our 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek article, “The Fishing Industry’s Cruelest Catch.” The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 4 of 20



Teens sexually harassed in the workplace. Few teens know what to do when a supervisor begins to talk ceaselessly and intimately about their bodies and lives, discussing sex acts in detail, propositioning, and groping, grabbing, stalking, threatening, or sexually assaulting them. Our 2007 Good Housekeeping investigation “Is Your Daughter Safe at Work” put this under-reported issue on the map and became an episode on PBS’s public affairs show NOW, hosted by Maria Hinojosa, reaching millions of readers and viewers. Follow-up articles rippled across the nation. The show tracked the legal journeys to justice of several young women and examined how the issue affects teens across the country.




Food safety. In her investigative article “Why Your Food Isn’t Safe” in Good Housekeeping, Senior Fellow Madeline Drexler detailed serious lapses and failures in U.S. food safety policies and practices. She pointed to specific actions government agencies should take to reduce the frequency and severity of serious – sometimes deadly – foodborne illness outbreaks, and offered steps consumers could take to protect themselves from potentially contaminated foods bought in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants. Within days after the article was published, the USDA announced it would extend the ban on E. coli in ground beef to include six other toxic strains, and the FDA declared it would establish a foodborne illness outbreak response network.

Unsafe aircraft? In 2006, The Washington Post published our collaborative investigation into whistleblower allegations about dangerous lapses in Boeing production and oversight – right on the front page, above the fold. Boeing is still embroiled in a legal dispute with the three whistleblowers – all former Boeing employees – who say questionable parts ended up in hundreds of Boeing 737s. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration maintain that the 737s are safe to fly; the whistleblowers’ experts say that has not yet been fully established. As we wrote in the Post, documents and interviews about the dispute “exposed gaps in the way government regulators investigated the alleged problems in aircraft manufacturing.”

Housing the homeless. In 2007, The Boston Globe published our article “First Things First,” about new approaches to ending homelessness – and the Massachusetts government’s failures to take action on its “Housing First” initiative. Within one month, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed a new staff director for the homelessness commission; the state budget doubled funds dedicated to Housing First; and the commission met after 18 months of inaction.

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY & HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROJECT CORPORATE & GOVERNMENTAL POLICY CHANGES More people are enslaved today than at any other point in human history, according to scholar Kevin Bales, who has advised us on our work. Our “Business of Slavery” series reveals how products that are caught, harvested, or manufactured by enslaved laborers wind up in Western shopping carts.

Yusril, 28, was desperate for a job to help support his pregnant wife. He was recruited with other Indonesians to work on a North Korean ship trawling for fish in the New Zealand waters. Once there, however, he and others were essentially enslaved on the ship, forced to work very long hours with little or no pay and physically and sexually abused.



n 2012 our article “The Fishing Industry’s Cruelest Catch” by Schuster Institute reporter E. Benjamin Skinner was published in Bloomberg Businessweek. Because of the exposure of the issues uncovered in this story, the New Zealand government tightened regulation and oversight of its fishing waters (2012). In addition, Wal-Mart, Safeway, High Liner, and other implicated companies launched investigations into their fish suppliers’ labor practices (2012), and the CEO of New Zealand’s largest publicly held fishing company, named in our investigation, admitted wrongdoing and resigned (2013). Most importantly, in 2014, due in part to our reporting, New Zealand’s parliament amended its laws to ban foreign-flagged vessels from fishing in its waters, effectively prohibiting the form of slavery that we exposed in our investigative story. After our major articles were published, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Guardian and many others launched reporting on this subject.


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ur 2013 article “Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses,” by Schuster Institute reporter E. Benjamin Skinner, published in Bloomberg Businessweek, documented slavery in the production of palm oil. Since the article’s publication, the percentage of globally traded palm oil from suppliers committed to ending “human rights abuses across their supply chains” rose from just 5 percent to 95 percent. In fact, Green Century Capital Management said, “We were able to present a strong case to companies for making these commitments, because the investigative reporting from the Schuster Institute that appeared in Bloomberg really heightened public awareness about controversies in the palm oil supply chain, and the reputational risk to companies who use the “Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses,” E. Benjamin Skinner, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 18, 2013. ingredient.” Corporations that announced or strengthened commitments to buying only palm oil free of forced INDONESIA and child labor and human trafficking since the story’s publication include Cargill, Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, The “Adam” is recruited Kellogg Company, from Nias, his Mondelez hometown, to drive trucks. He is International, forced to work as a laborer at a palm oil Procter & Gamble, plantation in Berau. Safeway, J.M. Smucker, and The story highlights one man’s journey from freedom to slavery and back, and how few consumers around the world, including in China’s and India’s growing markets, are aware of the workers’ plight. This map shows “Adam’s” 2,000-mile forced migration. Unilever.


Percentage of palm oil from producers committed to rooting out slavery: BEFOREpublished & AFTER our investigation BEFORE 2013 $ investigation 0 in Bloomberg Businessweek Asset Type

By 2015




Since the publication of our 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek article documenting slavery in the production of palm oil, “the percentage of globally traded palm oil from suppliers committed to ending human rights abuses across their supply chains” rose from just 5 percent to 95 percent, according to Green Century Capital Management.


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GENDER & JUSTICE PROJECT This project aims to examine continuing injustices and biases harming women and their children – in the workplace, in family life, in the courts, in health care, in public policy, and in the media – yet are not being fully or accurately reported.

INVESTIGATION: FRAUD IN INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION Since 2008, the Schuster Institute has been exposing fraud and corruption in international adoption, and offering potential solutions. Our multi-year deep reporting prompted intra-congressional discussions among high-level stakeholders and staffers, eventually leading to the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, signed into law by President Obama. When that law went into effect July 14, 2014, it enacted one of our proposed solutions: requiring every adoption agency or individual arranging international adoptions to be federally accredited. Through numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, over several years, the State Department released publicly for the first time cables between Washington and the U.S. embassies that documented the serious problems U.S. diplomats had found in countries such as Guatemala, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ethiopia. We used these for articles in Foreign Policy magazine and website, the Washington Post, Slate, the Boston Globe, Democracy magazine, CBS and many other media outlets. We also aggregated and posted all the embassy cables we received and other deep research we gathered to build an online searchable library for journalists, policy makers and the AWARDS! “The Lie We Love,” Senior Fellow E.J. Graff, Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2008 WINNER! 2009 Clarion Award, Magazine Feature WINNER! 2008 Sigma Delta Chi Award in Journalism for Best in Magazine Investigative Reporting  WINNER! 2008 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism HONORABLE MENTION! 2009 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism

public. Our website analytics show that this series of investigative reports is among the most popular on our website, with hits coming from around the world. Two articles written by a Schuster Associate Editor and a Senior Fellow in 2014 – E.J. Graff’s “They Steal Babies, Don’t They?” in Pacific Standard Magazine and Erin Siegal McIntyre’s “The Limits of Jurisdiction” in Guernica Magazine – brought attention to both the problems and the solution. Siegal McIntyre’s investigative nonfiction book, Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-border Search for Truth (Beacon Press) examines a case of child kidnapping for international adoption and details criminal networks and corruption that afflicted some U.S. adoptions from Guatemala. It was featured on an hourlong CBS 48 Hours special investigation, “Perilous Journey” in January 2014. The episode won an Emmy in 2016. AWARDS! Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for Truth, Senior Fellow Erin Siegal (Beacon Press 2012). WINNER! 2015 Emmy Award for CBS “48 Hours” episode based on Finding Fernanda WINNER! Gold Ippy Award WINNER! Overseas Press Club WINNER! International Latino Book Award WINNER! James Madison Award

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In person, by phone, Internet or email


Gathering information & images • Interviewing sources • Requesting & reviewing public records & corporate documents • Conducting extensive online research • Attending meetings & public hearings • Fact-checking • Authenticating documents • Reviewing credibility of our sources Writing & editing articles, captions, infographics, audio & video files

Partnering with media outlets to reach the largest or most targeted audiences; offering original & curated content on our website including posting our deep-dive resources Getting the story out to the public & stakeholders via social media networks, blogs, & targeted advocacy groups

Schuster Institute staff and senior fellows bring decades of reporting experience to their work in our innovative newsroom without walls. Their backgrounds range from anthropology to microbiology. Their work spurs change, informs and refocuses the national conversation, and garners awards.

Deep investigations cost a lot of money. It takes a strong financial commmitment to take on stories that may span continents and months or years. Without help from our funding partners, we could not tackle the stories other media organizations can’t or won’t do.

Ever mindful of Justice Brandeis’s famous words, “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants,” our team of staff, fellows, and students devotes hours, days, and months in our deep-dive investigations. We have the support of a university committed to “truth even unto its innermost parts” and the pursuit of justice. The university offers a rich trove of research resources, consulting professors, and visiting scholars.

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JUSTICE BRANDEIS LAW PROJECT The Justice Brandeis Law Project (JBLP) uses investigative journalism methods to examine possible miscarriages of criminal justice, including likely wrongful convictions, official misbehavior, and misuse of government power.

The Schuster Institute’s investigation of Angel Echavarría’s wrongful conviction case was featured in Brandeis magazine. Lindsay Markel (above), then associate director of the institute, was a key member of the team and, inspired by her experience, went on to become a public defender in New Orleans.


nlike many innocence projects, the Justice Brandeis Law Project takes on especially difficult cases in which exoneration does not hinge primarily on DNA evidence. Experienced reporters

are supported by volunteers and a smart, enthusiastic team of Brandeis undergraduate students in reviewing documents, finding and interviewing witnesses, and working across language barriers.

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INVESTIGATING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: BIG WINS! ANGEL ECHAVARRÍA SERVED 21 YEARS BEFORE HIS CONVICTION WAS OVERTURNED In June 2015 Angel Echavarría was exonerated after serving 21 years of a life sentence for a murder that he did not commit. The Schuster Institute began investigating Angel’s case in 2005, after all of his other options had been exhausted. Through painstaking review and by applying investigative journalism techniques, we uncovered important evidence that eventually allowed him back into court and helped his attorney make the case for his exoneration. Our investigation uncovered significant systemic problems in the criminal justice system, including eyewitness misidentification, inadequate defense, and possible police misconduct. We plan to continue our work to expose these issues on a greater level by using our impact journalism model to ensure they are kept in the forefront for the public, advocates, thought leaders and policy makers.

Angel Echavarría makes his first phone call to family after his release from prison.


Congratulations on the Angel Echavarría case – that’s a tremendous accomplishment that will have major impact in the eyewitness identification reform efforts now underway in the Commonwealth. “And, needless to say, your Globe magazine story about why we didn’t have a DNA testing and access statute was incredibly useful in getting MA General Law Chapter 278A passed. So thank you, very, very much.”

— David M. Siegel, Professor of Law & Co-Director, Center for Law and Social Responsibility at New England Law School

GEORGE PERROT SERVED 30 YEARS BEFORE HIS CONVICTION WAS OVERTURNED In February 2016 George Perrot walked free after serving 30 years in prison for a crime both he and the victim always maintained he did not commit. The judge overturned George’s conviction, which was based on flawed FBI forensic science and testimony that would not be admissible in court today. The Schuster Institute began investigating George’s claim of innocence in 2011, after he said he hadn’t received responses from the many organizations he had asked for help. We immediately recognized the importance of the case because of its reliance on microscopic hair analysis, now considered “junk science.” This technique, which the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) rejected in 2009 as scientifically unsound, was instrumental to Perrot’s case. It wasn’t until 2000 that the FBI was consistently using the more definitive, science-based method of DNA hair testing. Before this transition, FBI agents trained as “microscopic hair analysts” testified as experts. Several thousand such cases are now being called into question as part of a historic nationwide review conducted jointly by the FBI, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Innocence Project. Among these cases, George’s was the first to get an evidentiary hearing and the first conviction to be overturned. The ramifications will reverberate nationally throughout the criminal justice system and shine a light on thousands of other cases where justice may not have been achieved.

The ruling to overturn George Perrot’s conviction and set him free will send a thunderbolt through the forensic community.”

George Perrot studies for his driver’s permit, which he obtained after a two-hour wait at the RMV. He waited 30 years in prison to have his convcition overturned.

First conviction in U.S. overturned based solely on flawed FBI “junk hair science”!

— Chris Fabricant, Director ofStrategic Litigation at the Innocence Project The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 11 of 20

ANGEL ECHAVARRĂ?A CONVICTION OVERTURNED MAY 18, 2015 The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 12 of 20


Angel Echavarría Free at last

wenty-one years into a life sentence for a murder conviction, Angel Echavarría was set free May 18, 2015, to the sound of cheers in Essex County Superior Court in Salem. His conviction had been overturned several weeks prior.

eyewitness evidence in general, the eyewitness evidence in Angel’s case didn’t square. Angel didn’t look anything like the culprit described by the key eyewitness.”

As soon as Echavarría was released from his shackles, the crowd of supporters applauded and he made his way to the courtroom door, stopping to hug his youngest daughter, Ishannis López, 22, who was six months old at the time of his arrest.

on the ineffectiveness of Echavarría’s trial attorney, Charles H. Robson. Robson’s performance, the judge wrote, “fell measurably below that which might be expected from an ordinary fallible lawyer,” a standard set by the Supreme Court.

It had been a long haul to freedom for the soft-spoken Dominican man, who spent almost half his life behind bars, thanks in large part to erroneous witness accounts with shaky origins and incompetent legal representation. “I’m very happy,” said Echavarría, 48, as he addressed reporters and supporters gathered outside the courthouse. Gesturing to his lawyer, Leslie O’Brien, and the crowd of students and staff from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, he added, “I want to say thank you to everybody who made this happen.”

Citing numerous examples, Judge David A. Lowy based his decision allowing Echavarría’s motion for a new trial

He also cited the fact that Robson “had complaints pending against him from the Board of Bar Overseers” at the time of Echavarría’s trial – unbeknown to Echavarría. Several months after Echavarría’s conviction, the Bar Counsel commenced proceedings against Robson, who was suspended from the Bar in 1997 for three years. Judge Lowy noted that Robson promised the jury in his opening statement that Echavarría would testify that he wasn’t at the scene of the murder and knew nothing about the crime. Over the course of the trial, however, Robson never called his client as a witness.

The Schuster Institute investigated Echavarría’s case beginning in 2005, unearthing valuable evidence that helped lead “It is certainly conceivable,” wrote the the judge to grant an evidentiary hearing judge, “that the jury’s verdict may have in December 2014. The Committee for been different were it not for Mr. RobPublic Counsel Services assigned attorson’s error.” ney Leslie O’Brien to Echavarría’s case in He concluded, “The weakness of the ComAngel’s family joined him and Schuster 2008. Institute staff and students at Brandeis monwealth’s case, along with the perforOn June 15, when prosecutors announced University for a celebratory luncheon. mance of Mr. Echavarría’s counsel...leaves they would not retry him and he became the Court with a compelling belief that officially exonerated, Echavarría would begin the difficult justice may not have been done in this case.” but welcome task of rebuilding his life. From the beginEchavarría’s attorney Leslie O’Brien could not agree more. ning, he maintained his innocence in the Jan. 7, 1994, “This (was) one of the best moments in my 31-year career. murder of Daniel Rodriguez in a Lynn, Mass., apartment. I just couldn’t be happier or more pleased for Angel.” “We are deeply grateful that the criminal justice system has finally recognized that Angel Echavarría never received At the May 18 impromptu press conference after Echavarría’s release, a reporter asked, “Angel, what are you going a fair trial,” said Florence Graves, founding director of to do now?” the Schuster Institute, which investigated the case over the course of 10 years. “The evidence against Angel was “I’m gonna eat some food,” he said, getting a big laugh deeply flawed nor there was no physical evidence against from the crowd. him. Over time, through our deep investigation, it became And then, seated next to his youngest daughter in the even clearer to us that Angel was almost surely innocent. back seat of his cousin’s SUV, a cell phone in his hands for None of the so-called evidence fit. And without even the very first time, he drove away to a celebratory lobster factoring in the new science about the unreliability of dinner with family and friends. a

George Perrot ‘I am free!’

GEORGE D. PERROT CONVICTION OVERTURNED JANUARY 26, 2016 The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 14 of 20

“I do, your honor.” These four words, the first spoken in open court by George D. Perrot at the end of a 30-year ordeal in prison, confirmed his oath to Judge Robert J. Kane to honor the terms of release on his own recognizance. Kane had overturned Perrot’s conviction for a 1985 rape and burglary several weeks earlier. “I wish you, Mr. Perrot, the best of luck,” Kane said. As the judge walked out of the courtroom, Perrot turned to hug his team of pro bono attorneys at the Feb. 10, 2016, bail hearing in the historic New Bedford courthouse. Supporters in the gallery, including Perrot’s mother and stepfather and Schuster Institute staff and student researchers, began to applaud. The bailiff removed Perrot’s shackles and he left the courtroom in gray prison garb, returning minutes later wearing a plaid shirt, sweatpants and a big smile. The smile was a sign of new hope after his conviction was overturned for the third time in 26 years. Perrot, 48, had spent most of his life so far trying to get the courts to recognize the junk hair science and prosecutorial misconduct that were largely responsible for putting him in prison as a teenager. Finally, after much time in solitary confinement, a botched back surgery, and surviving what he described as an “extremely violent” prison, Perrot was going home. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Perrot. “I just want to thank Judge Kane, and I want to thank my legal team and my supporters,” he said as he guided his mother down the courthouse steps. The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism began investigating Perrot’s case in 2011. By that time, Perrot had exhausted many avenues of appeal and had been denied three motions he filed for a new trial. He said his many requests to organizations committed to reviewing wrongful convictions had been turned down and that he received his first “yes” from the Schuster Institute. Since then, staff and student researchers have probed inconsistencies and problems, including faulty forensic science, lost and mismanaged evidence, and a victim who insisted Perrot was not her attacker. Several years later, a team of pro bono attorneys gathered to represent Perrot: Christopher Walsh, Kirsten Mayer and Nicholas Perros from Ropes & Gray; Lisa Kavanaugh, director of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services Innocence Program; and Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation at the Innocence Project. Kane wrote in his 79-page decision overturning the conviction that “justice may not have been done” in the case, citing newly available evidence that the “enormously influential” testimony of FBI hair analyst Wayne Oakes in

Perrot’s trial was not supported by science and should not have been admitted. This new evidence included a landmark 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences debunking hair microscopy as a “junk science,” and the results of an FBI review that began in 2012 of hair microscopy testimony by FBI agents in thousands of cases across the country. Perrot’s was one of those cases, and in 2014 he received a letter from the FBI admitting to specific, significant errors in Oakes’s trial testimony. The single hair that helped convict him was declared lost before it could be tested for DNA. In January, his became the first new trial ordered based on new evidence about hair microscopy itself. “The fact that George has served three decades in prison for a rape that the 78-year-old victim, Mary Prekop, repeatedly told authorities he didn’t commit is beyond tragic,” said Florence Graves, founding director of the Schuster Institute. “Moreover, George’s case showcases the devastating impact of a criminal justice system that takes decades to acknowledge that thousands of people have been found guilty based on deeply flawed forensic science. I believe Judge Kane’s decision will give others still in prison real hope.” But Perrot’s struggle is not yet over. Hampden County prosecutors filed a notice of appeal February 23, thumbing their noses at a warning from Judge Kane that his decision was ironclad, and indicating that the end of Perrot’s legal battle could still be years away. Prosecutors have not indicated the basis of their appeal and the spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment. “It is disappointing although not surprising,” Perrot told the Schuster Institute after hearing news of the appeal. “The Commonwealth, despite overwhelming evidence of my innocence and their own misconduct, continue to waste taxpayer dollars and torture me.” Perrot’s attorneys say they are confident Kane’s decision will be upheld and that there is a silver lining to the appeal. “Review by an appeals court will bring further attention to the injustice that has resulted from flawed forensics in this case and many others nationally,” said attorney Christopher Walsh. “We look forward to continuing to advocate on George’s behalf.” Meanwhile, as he rehabs houses for a real estate company owned by Schuster Institute legal researcher Sherrie Frisone, Perrot is busy rebuilding his life on the outside. He likes to keep busy, he says. And he relishes the relative quiet of his apartment. On only his ninth day of freedom, Perrot found himself at New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. Embracing the moment, he stepped up on a snow bank and raised his hands in the air – “free at last.” a

OUR “NEWSROOM WITHOUT WALLS” BUSINESS MODEL The Schuster Institute offers an innovative way to build journalistic capacity and support quality content in an industry facing disruptive change. We have assembled a team comprising Institute staff; 22 highly accomplished independent investigative journalists to work toward the Institute’s mission (The Ethics and Justice in Journalism Fellowship Project); Brandeis University student research assistants; and highly skilled and retired professionals and graduate students who bring expertise in areas such as law, business, psychology, the environment and other key areas related to our work (The Visiting Scholars Research Program). Rather than building at significant cost and then solely relying on our own standalone competitive news site to push our reporting out to the wider world, the Institute has built partnerships with news organizations such as The Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Boston Globe, NPR, PBS, CNN, NBC, Slate, Foreign Policy, Huffington Post, and numerous others that provide us strategic publishing platforms for the range of stories we report. We also have strategically increased the number of impactful social justice and human rights reports by building a fellowship program that supports independent journalists in ways that allow them to find the most appropriate and effective ways to disseminate their reporting. Through our fellows, the Schuster Institute

Senior Fellow Phillip Martin discusses story ideas with student researchers at the Schuster Institute. Martin won the 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting for his eight-part series, “Underground Trade: From Boston to Bangkok,” broadcast by WGBH Boston Public Radio in cooperation with the Schuster Institute and the International Center for Journalists.

produces a steady stream of impactful reporting published or broadcast in a variety of media reaching millions of readers and viewers around the world. Our business model, which we believe is unique in the nonprofit journalism world, gives us the flexibility to expand our existing focus areas while continuing to grow the impact of our reporting.

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS To enhance our work we have sought and secured partnerships with other organizations, often receiving pro bono services. Examples of a few of our strategic partnerships are: • Fund for Investigative Journalism Washington, D.C., partnering with us on fellowships and grants • Institute for Nonprofit News Over 100 nonprofit news organizations collaborating on stories and pooling resources to boost reach and impact • Global Investigative Journalism Network An international association of nonprofit organizations • International Innocence Network A crucial resource for our Justice Brandeis Law Project • Proskauer, Rose (New York) Provides pro bono legal counsel on media and First Amendment issues • Lexis-Nexis Provides pro bono access to legal databases not available through Brandeis University

PUBLISHING PARTNERSHIPS To achieve our mission of impact journalism, it is critical that every story be published or aired in a news outlet that will provide maximum exposure to the right audience. Prior to committing to an investigation, we first ask: “What is the outcome or impact we believe is possible? What are the best media outlets combined with a publicity strategy to achieve that impact?” Then we strategically choose the right outlet and use our network to secure the opportunity and plan a larger social media and targeted media campaign to reach those who can help achieve the impact. Partners have included: • Bloomberg Businessweek • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The New York Times • The Miami Herald

• NBC News • The Huffington Post • Global Post • National Geographic • Foreign Policy magazine (and website)

• • Scientific American • WGBH Boston Public Radio/Television • WBUR Boston Public Radio

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OUR SENIOR FELLOWS In today’s changing journalism landscape, talented independent reporters too often lack an institutional home. This means their reporting does not receive the attention it deserves from editors, news outlets, the public, or policy makers. The Ethics & Justice Investigative Reporting Fellowship exists to support such committed reporters in telling vital stories and sharing them with global audiences. We provide them with professional guidance and editorial support during the reporting and editing process, robust promotion of their completed work, access to Brandeis’s extensive online resources and databases, paid student research assistance by Brandeis undergraduates who are rigorously trained and supervised by Institute staff, pro bono attorneys, the ability to host background documents on the Institute’s website, and a community of top-tier investigative reporters.

Since its founding in 2010, the project has grown to include 22 highly accomplished fellows. Our fellows have received over 40 journalism awards, including two prestigious Sigma Delta Chi awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the George Polk Award and many others. Although we are not able to pay our fellows, they have told us that the value they receive from their official Brandeis University appointment and institutional home can’t be quantified.


Our primary mission is to influence social change through our journalism. While larger news organizations cut budgets and let investigative journalists go, we are providing an ever-growing number with valuable support and opportunities to help them continue their important work.

Schuster Senior Fellow Maryn McKenna’s 2015 TED Talk on antibiotic resistance has been seen by almost 1.5 million viewers . . . and counting!

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Schuster Institute staff, research scholars and student research assistants gather at Brandeis University to celebrate the release of George Perrot (seated, middle) after 30 years in prison. The Institute has been working on Perrot’s case since 2011. To the right of Perrot is Florence Graves, founding director of the Schuster Institute. On Perrot’s other side is Sherrie Frisone, the legal researcher who brought his case to the Institute.



ince its founding, the Schuster Institute has employed Brandeis University undergraduate students as research assistants. We hire students whose majors run the gamut — from legal studies, journalism and English to psychology, neuroscience and biology. These research assistants magnify the capacity of both our staff and fellows to produce groundbreaking work. At the same time, the Institute helps students learn about reporting methods, hone their critical-thinking skills, examine gaps between the official story and the facts, and understand how investigative reporting can make a direct and lasting impact on society.

I am reminded on a daily basis that just a small group of individuals can work hard together and make an impact on this world. …Getting to be a part of that work is truly inspiring.” – Aliza Heeren

Working at Schuster has reinforced my conviction that the criminal justice system is seriously flawed, and it has demonstrated to me that the media can be an extremely powerful tool to address these systemic flaws – an alternative to addressing them through legislative or legal advocacy means. It has expanded my definition of ‘journalism.’” – Elly Kalfus

The Schuster Institute has definitely inspired me to work in the future for underprivileged populations.” – Ana Chavez



ur Visiting Research Scholars program, launched in 2015, gives the Institute the opportunity to efficiently and effectively expand its depth and breadth of knowledge in some of our key focus areas. We currently have five Visiting Research Scholars applying their expertise to assist us in our Justice Brandeis Law Project, Children and Justice Project and Environmental Justice Project. Our scholars consist of two highly accomplished retired lawyers; a retired professional with a background in computer science and psychology and a long history of community service in women’s and children’s issues; a doctoral student focusing on cutting-edge science in criminal justice; and another newly graduated professional who has traveled the world to develop her knowledge in the field of environmental justice. Apart from one international scholar who receives a stipend, our scholars are volunteers, providing us with a level of expertise and professionalism that could not be supported by our current budget.

As a recent “almost retired” lawyer, I feel revitalized by volunteering part-time at the Schuster Institute. I’m truly grateful to be working with such passionate, principled journalists and committed students on issues so vital for all of us.” —Marian Glaser, Visiting Resarch Scholar

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 18 of 20


PRESIDENT CLINTON: INSTITUTE’S IMPACT JOURNALISM MODEL ‘HELPS US TO BECOME BETTER CITIZENS’ Conversation with President Clinton to benefit the Schuster Institute (Oct. 3, 2012) President Bill Clinton told those gathered at the home of Elaine and Gerald Schuster for a benefit that​he’s grateful that t​ he Schuster Institute is providing a new journalism “model that will help us become better citizens.” He added, ​“ ​The ​good news about the information world we live in is that an eight-year-old can get on the Internet and find out in a minute and a half what I had to go to college to learn. The bad news is you have no idea whether it’s accurate or not, half the time. And it’s like the political equivalent of chaos theory in physics. That there’s all this stuff out there, and nobody’s connecting the dots.” This news chaos has left a vacuum that the Schuster Institute’s impact journalism is helping to fill by exposing injustice and holding the powerful accountable, and it “will help us to become better citizens. And I can’t tell you how important I think that is,” President Clinton said.

SCHUSTER INSTITUTE CO-SPONSORS U.N. PANEL OF EXPERTS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND THE NEWS MEDIA “Hidden in plain sight: The news media’s role in exposing human trafficking” (June 10, 2010) U.S. ambassadors and award-winning journalists discussed the news media’s power and responsibility to shed light on victims, perpetrators, and those who profit from modernday slavery, in a panel of experts that was co-sponsored by the Schuster Institute at the United Nations in New York. The panel​was held the day after the U.S. State Department released its 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and the day before the UN commemoration of the ​tenth anniversary of the “Palermo Convention” – the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the main international instrument in the fight against human trafficking. TOP: Antonio Maria Costa, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and Schuster Institute Senior Fellow E. Benjamin Skinner (R) discuss journalists’ role in exposing human trafficking, while former ABC News correspondent Lynn Sherr moderates. Schuster Institute Founding Director Florence Graves delivers opening remarks; hundreds attend the panel discussion at the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University | | | 19 of 20

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism Watchdog reporting: Local, National, Global

Our “newsroom without walls” work extends all over the world, from the fishing waters of New Zealand to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico to the rainforests of Indonesia. Schuster Institute investigations have covered stories on every continent and in all regions of the United States.

Schuster Institute Advisory Board We are grateful for our Advisory Board’s advice, confidence, and support. Cynthia Berenson Katie Ford Michele Kessler Jonathan Lavine Julia Ormond George Packer Marianane Pearl Alexandra Schuster Elaine Schuster, founding benefactor Gerald Schuster, founding benefactor Tom Shadyac

Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism Florence Graves, Founding Director t 781.736. 4249 Brandeis University 415 South Street, MS 043 Waltham, MA 02454–9110 @SchusterInst t 781.736.4953

f 781.736.5030

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Schuster Institute Journalism Impact  

Learn about the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism's reporting on social justice and human rights since 2004

Schuster Institute Journalism Impact  

Learn about the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism's reporting on social justice and human rights since 2004