Journalism that leads to change
Since our founding in 2009, impact has been at the core of our mission. inewsource’s investigative journalism doesn’t just expose wrongdoing and inequities, it gets results. We believe in reporting that delivers meaningful and significant change across Southern California.
Here are examples of how our investigations have made a difference in the lives of those who call the San Diego region home – and others across the country.
Five police departments in San Diego County stop illegally sharing data in response to inewsource reporting
In January 2022, we published a story that found most police agencies spend thousands of dollars every year to collect drivers’ location data by scanning license plates on people’s cars. Our reporting revealed that five departments in San Diego County were sharing that information illegally with hundreds of other law enforcement agencies across the country. License plate data contains private information, which could be used by anyone who has access to find out where someone is going and who they spend their time with. We found that the vast majority of information collected had nothing to do with solving crime or protecting the public.
As a result of our dogged questioning, all five departments made the decision to either end or suspend the practice of illegally sharing license plate reader information with out-of-state agencies.
Our reporting contributes to a new state law to protect farmers
We published a story in February 2021 revealing that California farmers in high fire-risk areas like San Diego County’s backcountry were being dropped by insurance companies at increasingly high rates, seriously threatening San Diego County’s $1.8 billion agricultural industry.
As a result of our reporting, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 11, which made farmers eligible to insure their buildings against fire damage. Introductory language for the bill cited inewsource’s original reporting.
Property records more accessible to public, as result of inewsource reporting
Our investigation into housing deeds shed light on racial covenants that once were common tools used to exclude people of color from living in homes across the San Diego region. Covenants became popular in the first half of the twentieth century and continued to be added to property deeds, even after their enforcement was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1948. Our reporting unveiled more than 10,000 real estate documents across San Diego County with clauses that excluded people of color and other groups, such as Jews and Hindus.
As a result of our reporting on restrictive covenants, the county worked with a vendor to make digitized historic property records more easily searchable by the public. Prior to that change, records before 1931 were not digitally available. Our reporting was featured on NPR’s website, and the story was developed in partnership with its investigations team.
Wondering how to look up your housing deed? We covered that, too.
County orders review of COVID-19 hotels program after inewsource exposes mismanagement
At the beginning of the pandemic, San Diego County began using hotels and motels to isolate people who came in contact with COVID-19. In early May of 2020, we published the first of fourteen stories shedding light on mismanagement of the facilities. Our reporting found that county staff were overwhelmed by the level of care needed for people in isolation, many of whom were unhoused and struggling with mental illnesses or substance-use disorders. County officials had hired an unqualified contractor, leading to serious safety issues including lapses in mental health care, overdoses and a death by suicide in a hotel room that we discovered went unnoticed for five days.
Eight days after our first story published, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors ordered a review of the program. San Diego State University was brought in as an independent auditor and confirmed our findings in a scathing 154-page report. Weeks later, officials said most of the problems had been resolved.
Members of Congress cite inewsource reporting in changes to San Diego VA
Our investigative reporting chronicled the struggles veterans have faced trying to access critical medical treatments outside the VA, the federally funded health care system for veterans. Through documents and interviews, inewsource showed how the VA is taking away health care options from veterans. Our work caught the attention of members of Congress who called the findings “shocking” and “disgraceful.” One lawmaker pointed to the story during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing, quoted the article and asked the head of the national VA to address the findings.
A national VA spokesperson told inewsource that following our reporting, the San Diego VA had submitted requests for additional staffing to better meet customer service demands and began an audit process to ensure veterans get access to needed health care. The story was published in partnership with USA TODAY in November 2021, where it was featured on the front page of newspapers across the country.