Investigative Reporting on
  Human Rights & Social Justice Issues

Our in-depth reporting on palm oil, international adoption, slavery in your seafood, racial inequality, Whitey Bolger & more


wessler-coverSeth Freed Wessler's cover story for The Nation on medical neglect in privately run prisons led to the closure of some facilities. “This Man Will Almost Certainly Die,” “Obama's DOJ Says It One More Time: Private Prisons Aren't Working,” Donald Trump's Looming Mass Criminalization, and more. Wessler's reporting was featured in The Washington PostReveal NewsNPR's Fresh Air and Democracy Now.                                                                                                                       

new-york-timesTracie McMillan tapped into her experiences working at a Walmart while reporting for her bestselling book, "The American Way of Eating," to examine possible causes that led blue states to go red in the 2016 election: “White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart,” New York Times, Dec. 17. 

vice-logoHella Winston reports on a tiny rural village north of New York City torn apart by voter fraud allegations. Some locals say a developer “has spent years plotting to refashion the place as a sort of private city.” Read it here.

national-geographicMaryn McKenna reports for National Geographic on superbugsantibiotic resistanceZika as a sexually transmitted infection, and more, and “Exclusive: Biggest Worries, Wins of U.S. Disease Control Chief” Thomas Friedan as he prepares to leave office. 

wgbh-logoPhillip Martin covers Trump’s travel ban hearing in Boston federal court, the arrest of’s CEO, the Dookhan scandal that jeopardized 24,000 drug cases, and more for WGBH Boston Public Radio and PRI The World.

undark-logoKaren Coates and Jerry Redfern, authors of "Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos," explain the ongoing impact of 2.5 million pounds of bombs dropped in Laos by the U.S. for eight years starting in 1965. See their article and video at "Bombscapes: Of War and Earth." They were interviewed on Democracy Now.

Plus! Selected Institute articles below:

Human Trafficking & Modern-Day Slavery

A Necessary Hero (How Brandeis alum rescues women and children from modern slavery), Claire Pavlik Purgus and Susan Piland, Winter (February) 2014, Brandeis Magazine.

The Real World of Prostitution, Phillip Martin, 11/19/2013, WGBH Boston Public Radio.

Prostituted Women in Mass. Pay Greater Price than 'Johns,' Phillip Martin, 11/18/2013, WGBH Boston Public Radio.

Human Trafficking Survey: Nearly 30 Million Held In Bondage, Phillip Martin, 10/28/2013, WGBH Boston Public Radio.

Underground Trade Part Seven: Why Human Trafficking is Called Modern Day Slavery, Phillip Martin, 10/1/2013, Huffington Post.

Two Years On, Massachusetts Human Trafficking Law Examined, Phillip Martin, 8/19/2013, WGBH Boston Public Radio.

Is There Slavery In Your Supermarket? 7/22/2013, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses, E. Benjamin Skinner, 7/18/2013, Bloomberg Businessweek.

In a nine-month investigation, the Schuster Institute's team of reporters followed the intra-country migration of workers in the palm oil industry in Indonesia. "Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses," the resulting story published on July 18, 2013 in Bloomberg Businessweek, highlights the harrowing and unexpected journey one man took from freedom to slavery and back, and how few consumers, especially those in the burgeoning markets of China and India, are unaware of workers' plight.

Duped, Sold into Prostitution, then Rescued: A Vietnamese Girl and the Man Who Saved Her, Phillip Martin, 5/20, PRI's The World.

2013 Gold Radio Winner and
UNDPI Gold Award Winning Broadcast:

Underground Trade: From Boston to Bangkok,
 Phillip Martin, WGBH Boston Public Radio.

Investigating Slavery Now & Then, January 2013, The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

Call it Trafficking, E.J. Graff, January 3, 2013, The American Prospect.

"The Fishing Industry's Cruelest Catch," E. Benjamin Skinner, February 20, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek.

"How U.S. Budget Cuts Prolong Global Slavery," June 28, 2011,

"Modern-Day Slavery: A Necessary Beat with Different Challenges," Winter 2010, Nieman Reports.

"Modern-Day Slavery on Washington's Embassy Row?" June 14, 2010,

“The New Slave Trade,” January 18, 2010,

“Pakistan’s Forgotten Plight: Modern-Day Slavery,” October 27, 2009,

“The Fight to End Global Slavery,” Summer 2009, World Policy Journal.

Food, Health, Science

NDM: “A Great Challenge for the Future of Healthcare”
Maryn McKenna, 4/29/2014, Wired Science

Are Electronic Cigarettes a Public Good or Health Hazard?
Michael Blanding, 4/23/2014, Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School

CDC: Foodborne illness in the U.S. not getting better
Maryn McKenna, 4/17/2014, Wired Science.

Why I Care About Food
Maryn McKenna, 4/16/2014, The Plate, NatGeo.

USDA: Chicken Processed in China Can Be Sold In The US Without Labels To Say So, Maryn McKenna
9/4/2013, Wired Science.

UK 'Horseburger' Scandal: Did The Meat Originate In The US? 
Maryn McKenna, 1/16, Wired Science.

FERN/ABC Report Reveals Link Between Bladder Infections and Overuse of Antibiotics in Chicken
July 11, 2012, reporting by Maryn McKenna, Food & Environment Reporting Network

Investigation: Drug Resistance, Chicken And 8 Million Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Maryn McKenna, July 11, 2012, Wired Science

"The Dangerous Superbugs Hiding in Your Dinner," 
Maryn McKenna, June 2012, Self

"Dining With Dioxin," Karen Coates, March 7, 2012, The Faster Times

“The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table,”
Tracie McMillan, February 21, 2012, Scribner. Read excerpts>

"Why Your Food Isn't Safe," Madeline Drexler, October 2011, Good Housekeeping. Learn more>

Fecal Transplants: A Clinical Trial Confirms How Well They Work, Maryn McKenna, 1/17, Wired Science.

A Government Takes Ag Antibiotics Seriously, But Not Our Government, Maryn McKenna, 1/15, Wired Science.

Almost-Untreatable Gonorrhea: Proof That It’s HereMaryn McKenna, 1/11, Wired Science.

Fracking's Health Calamities Left to Fester, Jan Goodwin, September 20, 2012, Truthout.

One Woman's Mission to Immunize Children Worldwide with the Polio Vaccine, Jan Goodwin, July 2012, Real Simple.

FERN/ABC Report Reveals Link Between Bladder Infections and Overuse of Antibiotics
in Chicken,
 July 11, 2012, Food & Environment Reporting Network, reported by Maryn McKenna.

Investigation: Drug Resistance, Chicken And 8 Million Urinary Tract Infections (UTI),
Maryn McKenna, July 11, 2012, Wired Science Blogs/Superbug.

Why Your Hamburger Hates America, Tracie McMillan, June 29, 2012, The Washington Post.

Border Issues: Migration, Immigration, Drugs Trade

Mothers Whose Ties Are Cut At The Border, Michelle Garcia with photography by Erin Siegal McIntyre, 3/19, Al Jazeera America

Death in the desert: The dangerous trek between Mexico and Arizona, Erin Siegal McIntyre, 3/11, Al Jazeera America

Teenage drug mules: Cartels are tapping minors to smuggle meth, coke, Erin Siegal McIntyre, 2/19, Al Jazeera America

Border Deaths: The Last Crossing of Tiger Martinez, Erin Siegal McIntyre and Seth Freed Wessler, 1/25, Al Jazeera America

International Adoption Fraud & Corruption

Fatal Adoption, E.J. Graff, 2/22,

Call it Trafficking, E.J. Graff, January 3, 2013, The American Prospect.

"The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010," Erin Siegal, February 1, 2012, Cathexis Press. Read excerpts>

"Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for the Truth," Erin Siegal, November 1, 2011, Cathexis Press.

"The Makeni Children," August 9, 2011,

"Orphaned or Stolen? The U.S. State Department investigates adoption, Nepal, 2006-2008," February 21, 2011, The Huffington Post.

"Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis," September 10, 2010,

"Adopting new standards on adoption," September 10, 2010, "Comment is Free,"

"The Baby Business," June 15, 2010, Democracy Journal.

"Preventing adoption disasters," April 17, 2010, The Boston Globe Op-Ed.

"The Seamier Side of International Adoption," May 10, 2009, The New York Times Opinion Blog.

"The Orphan Trade: A look at families affected by corrupt international adoptions," May 8, 2009,

"The Adoption Underworld," January 11, 2009, The Washington Post.

"The problem with saving the world's 'orphans'," December 11, 2008, The Boston Globe.

"The Lie We Love," Nov./Dec. 2008, Foreign Policy.

Criminal Justice & Law

Thousands of US Veterans Deported After Service, Erin Siegal McIntyre, 8/1/2013, KPCC Southern California Public Radio.

When Hollywood Meets the DAHella Winston, 7/16, The Crime Report.

Prisoners Rule, James Verini, November 2012, Foreign Policy.

Abuse Case Raising Statute Questions, Hella Winston, February 28, 2012, The Jewish Week.

Fight Over Mondrowitz Documents Coming To A Head, Hella Winston, February 7, 2012, The Jewish Week.

In Lakewood Abuse cases, A 'Parallel Justice System, Hella Winston, December 6, 2011, The Jewish Week.

Failing the DNA Test, Michael Blanding and Lindsay Markel, November 20, 2011, The Boston Globe Magazine.

Global Inequality:
  Environment & Public Health

The Global Land Grab: Rich countries are buying up poor countries
Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern, 4/25/2014, Slate

Noi's Life With Bombs
4/15/2014, Karen Coates & Jerry Redfern, Chime for Change

Fracking's Health Calamities Left to Fester, Jan Goodwin, September 20, 2012, Truthout.

The Flavor of Danger, Jerry Redfern and Karen Coates, Winter 2011, Gastronomica.

Injustice in Political Asylum

"Broken Promises: Seeking Political Asylum in America,"  Jan Goodwin, April 2010, Ladies Home Journal.

Women Veterans' Healthcare

"The VA Health-Care System's Dishonorable Conduct," Jan Goodwin, March 2010, Good Housekeeping.

Sexual Harassment of Teenagers in the Workplace

"Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?," June 2007, Good Housekeeping.

Gender & Justice

Anita Hill's Legacy, Florence Graves and E.J. Graff, April 7, 2014, Boston Globe.

"Do Women Count?," Spring 2008, Brandeis University Magazine.

"The Mommy War Machine," April 29, 2007, Sunday Washington Post Outlook section.

"The Opt-Out Myth," March/April 2007, Columbia Journalism Review.

"Striking Back," September 3, 2006, The Boston Globe.

"Fighting for Fair Treatment," April 27, 2006, The American Prospect Online.

"The Skinny Pink Paycheck Syndrome," February 12, 2006, Los Angeles Times.

"Too Pretty a Picture," November 25, 2005, The Washington Post.

"Mothers Prosecuted, Punished, For What They Didn't Do," May 26, 2005, USA Today.

Homelessness in Boston

"First Things First," June 24, 2007, The Boston Sunday Globe IDEAS.

Aircraft Safety

"Boeing Parts and Rules Bent, Whistle-Blowers Say," April 17, 2006, The Washington Post A1.     

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