Welcome to our blog!
This is a space to let you in new developments, behind-the-scenes reporting, member profiles and other aspects of our community.
The point of the first post is to get you oriented to who we are and what we do.
We’re a group of more than 130 journalists, visual storytellers, data scientists, faculty and students from more than 30 countries on five continents. We’re dedicated to carrying out ongoing investigations of key global issues facing and affecting our planet and global community.
Gaming the Lottery
Our first project was a groundbreaking expose of the international lottery industry. It started over a couple of bottles of wine at the 2016 African Investigative Journalism Conference and grew to include more than 80 people from 10 countries.
Together we laid bare the existence, structure and impact of an industry that generates about $300 billion in annual revenue—a sum that in 2014 was greater than the gross domestic product of 157 countries that year.
We’ve published more than five dozen stories in English, French and German in South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, Mali and Bolivia.
Some of the highlights included the following:
- The eight companies that play an outsized role in lotteries around the world, operating in as many as 100 countries.
- The World Lottery Association, a non-profit association based in Switzerland that is heavily funded by these eight influential companies. The association espouses its commitment to responsible gaming and its member lotteries’ charitable donations while regularly convening seminars and international conferences to plan how to continually boost lottery sales.
- The financial moves of International Game Technology (IGT), one of the planet’s largest companies that has allowed it to avoid hundreds of million of dollars in taxes while helping to run a public endeavor that many studies have found amounts to a regressive tax on poor people.
- The many questionable recipients of lottery funding in South Africa that have received tens, even hundreds, of millions of Rand, but often have meager results to show from that public investment.
- The lavish parties thrown by the political elite in Mali with funding from the national lottery.
- An analysis of more than 11 million records of lottery winners from 35 states and the District of Columbia that found more than 1,700 people across the United States winning significant lottery prizes at least 50 times. Statistical calculations showed that some of the winners tallied their wins despite almost incomprehensibly low odds.
Our work preceded store closures, policy changes and arrests in the United States and has sparked investigations and governmental inquiries. We’ve won local, regional and national regional awards in those countries, too.
In 2010 the United Nations declared access to clean water to be a universal human right that is essential to the enjoyment of all other rights.
Our current project is tackling the degree to which the global community is fulfilling or failing to meet this need for close to 1 billion people around the planet.
Thus far we’ve written about how the Chilean avocado industry’s relentless water consumption adversely affects residents in the area of Petorca.
A team member from Nigeria revealed the plight of elderly women in Abuja have to struggle three times daily to gather water for themselves.
And a South African team member who lived through the Day Zero crisis in Cape Town penned an open letter to the people of Chennai, an Indian city of 7 million people who are also facing the prospect of running out of water.
It’s not all been bad news, either.
Our colleagues from Chicago, powered by support from the Solutions Journalism Network, did a story for Morning Edition about Midwestern cities who are working to replace their lead pipes—and why Chicago has yet to make progress in that critical area.
These stories, and more, are available, on our site.
We’re excited about what we’ve done, and we’re just getting started.
We want to hear from you.
Check out what we’ve done.
And play around.
We welcome your feedback and ideas about other areas of this critical topic we should cover.