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In response to a historic influx of federal recovery dollars, Crosscut has launched an investigative desk to dig through funding allocations, relief programs and infrastructure contracts to find stories about how this spending is remaking, or should be remaking Washington communities.
This project will produce regular coverage of how federal programs have affected the lives of a diverse range of Washingtonians by examining spending priorities, program performance and availability, and accountability practices. It will explore barriers to funding, waste or misuse, government transparency and what residents have gotten for their money with an emphasis on equity and rural communities. Our team will also examine the on-the-ground efficacy of equity initiatives as well as disparities in access or investments.
From broadband networks to restorative justice programs, the project will seek to tell stories about the transformative impact of some efforts while also shining a light on abuses or lost opportunities to rebuild public resources. The project is expected to run from February 2022 through at least December 2023.
Crosscut's Follow the Funds guide can also help you track down information about where money is going in your community and explore publicly available funding data yourself.
(Si prefiere leer acerca de este proyecto en español, o proveer información en español, haga clic aquí.)
This work is made possible by a grant from the Inatai Foundation.
We need your help
We want to find stories with broad community interest and impact. The success of these investigations relies on connecting with Washingtonians like you.
If the questions below apply to you or someone you know, please take and share our surveys. Your stories could help us with this critical reporting. The best news tips include a strong foundation for initial reporting, such as the names of the people involved, relevant documents, databases, recordings or first-hand accounts.
We also want to hear your questions about how specific programs or projects operate. These questions can point us to key stories about recovery efforts.
Are you a business owner of color seeking grants, loans or other relief?
Are you a rural resident facing challenges accessing broadband or other utilities?
Is your community trying to invest in climate change mitigation infrastructure?
Are you at risk of eviction or losing services over a lack of local relief support?
(Note: We will never quote or publish your responses without contacting you and getting your consent. We will never share your information beyond our news team for any reason.)
Got a news tip for our investigations team?
The best news tips include a strong foundation for initial reporting such as the names of the people involved, relevant documents, databases, recordings or first-hand accounts.
Your questions about how specific programs or projects operate can also point us to key stories about recovery efforts. Submit your questions to Jacob or Brandon below.
How to submit a news tip:
- Good old snail mail is still a secure way to give our reporters vital information. Mail documents or other tips to our newsroom:
ATTN: WA Recovery Watch, Jacob Jones
401 Mercer St.
Seattle, WA 98109
- Leave a detailed message on our news tip line at 206-443-6704
- Email Jacob or Brandon
- Contact us via Signal, an encryption tool to keep your electronic communications private and secure. (Read this article for tips on how to use Signal)
Ask Jacob your questions about federal relief and recovery spending in Washington state.
Jacob Jones is Crosscut's investigations editor, dedicated to pursuing public-interest accountability stories throughout the state. He previously worked as a staff reporter at The Inlander in Spokane and The Daily World in Aberdeen. He has also had his work published in The Washington Post, The Spokesman-Review and other regional publications. Find him on Twitter @jonesdaily or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask Brandon your questions about federal relief and recovery spending in Washington state.
Brandon Block is Crosscut’s investigative reporter, focused on following the federal recovery money flowing into Washington state. He previously covered housing and homelessness for The Olympian as a Report for America fellow. Before that he wrote about art, immigration and criminal justice in Baltimore, and spent a year in Bangkok, Thailand as a Princeton in Asia fellow. His writing has appeared in WYPR 88.1, DCist, and Baltimore City Paper. Find him on Twitter @block_m3 or email at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
We want to pursue stories that reveal the on-the-ground effects of federal recovery spending on the people, organizations, businesses and projects that need it most as well as the long-term impacts on Washington communities. We hope to explain how money gets allocated to certain projects while illuminating barriers to relief programs and disparities in funding awards. We also aim to uncover stories that examine delays, dysfunction or potential misuse of recovery dollars.
We will seek out stories from every corner of Washington as well as stories that play out at the state level. We will pay particular attention to historically underserved or disadvantaged communities, investigating how federal programs have prioritized or excluded such residents. We have also targeted Benton, Chelan, Clark, Cowlitz, Douglas, Franklin, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Walla Walla counties in an effort to continue expanding our investigative coverage into new and rural regions outside the Puget Sound.
We have a lot of ground to cover, so detailed tips or questions make it much easier for us to hone in on potential stories in your community or connect trends statewide. You can email the investigations editor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your experiences in our surveys above. We do not have the resources to investigate every questionable or confusing program, so providing a strong foundation for reporting with details and documents can help us determine whether we can take on the story and whether there is a strong community interest in investigating.
Yes. Other news media can republish most of our work for free. Crosscut provides guidance here on how news outlets can republish our stories and photos. Feel free to reach out to your local newspaper or TV station if you think they would benefit from sharing our work with your community.
No. Crosscut editorial staff have complete control over reporting and publication of Recovery Watch stories. The foundation suggested the target counties for expanding coverage, but has not set any demands on the direction or format of coverage. The foundation is not permitted any advance review of stories and has not attempted to influence reporting efforts.
Ideally, the project will produce coverage serving all of those communities throughout the year as we examine how recovery money impacts how we all live and who is being left out. We will continue to conduct outreach with surveys and social media in hopes of learning more about the interests and information needs of marginalized groups or isolated rural areas.
We strive for our reporting to be transparent and clearly grounded in fact. We will attribute the information in our stories to the sources who provided it. We will often provide links to the primary documents or recordings we used so you can check our work. Subjects of our stories will be given the opportunity to comment and share their perspective prior to publication. Even in rare stories that rely on anonymous sources, our investigative team will still know the full identity of those sources and will work to vett their credibility before publication.
Sharing our stories with other interested readers or local officials can help increase the visibility or impact of our reporting. Sending us questions or story ideas can help us find new issues worthy of investigation. You can also support Crosscut’s work financially by becoming a member.