Special Report

Higher tide, worldwide – Graphic of the day

Today’s graphic shows the results of a Reuters analysis of relative changes in sea level as measured by tidy gauges around the world. For its analysis, Reuters relied on thousands of annual gauge readings supplied by the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, based in Liverpool, England.

To smooth year-to-year variations, reporters examined three-year rolling averages of tide-gauge readings over a 50-year period that started between 1958 and 1963 and ended between 2008 and 2013.

The gauges with the biggest increases were on the U.S. Gulf and East coasts and particularly in Southeast Asia. In both regions, the relatively large increases reflect the impact of subsidence, whereby long-term geologic forces, the extraction of groundwater and the weight of construction cause the land to sink.

sea level

Read more about why Britain is flirting with retreat from its battered shores and the entire Water’s Edge special report.

Journalist spotlight: Joan Biskupic on the reporting behind “The Echo Chamber” series

The Echo Chamber

On Monday, Reuters published an investigative series on “The Echo Chamber,” detailing the small group of lawyers that has outsized influence at the U.S. Supreme Court. The series reported that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the court over a nine year period accounted for 43 percent of the cases the court agreed to hear. About half of these lawyers have worked for the justices, and some socialize with them. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Legal Affairs Editor-in-Charge Joan Biskupic, who recently published a biography on Justice Sonia Sotomayor, offers an inside look at the reporting behind the series.

Q. How did you get started on this story? (more…)

Top petitioning law firms – Graphic of the day

A Reuters examination of about 10,300 court records filed over a nine-year period shows that lawyers at a dozen law firms (below) have become extraordinarily adept at getting cases before the Supreme Court. These firms were involved in a third of the cases the high court accepted. When the justices agreed to hear cases brought on behalf of Big Business, top firms were involved 60% of the time. A slightly larger group – 31 firms – accounted for 44% of all cases the court accepted. Today’s graphic lists the top 12 law firms who petition the U.S. Supreme Court and some statistics on their cases.

Top petitioning law firms

Read the full special report on a small group of lawyers and its outsized influences at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pathways to the lectern – Graphic of the day

Persuading the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal is no easy task. Private lawyers asked the justices to consider 10,300 petitions from the 2004 through 2012 court terms, according to a Reuters analysis of Westlaw data. The justices agreed to hear just 5% – or 528 – of those appeals. But a tiny cadre of the lawyers who petitioned the court – just 66 attorneys, less than 1% of the total – offered clients a far surer path onto the court’s calendar. Capitalizing most on this expertise: businesses. These 66 lawyers filed almost half of their appeals for business clients.

Supreme Court

Read the full special report on a small group of lawyers and its outsized influences at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The reconstruction financing loop – Graphic of the day

Thirty billion dollars in funding for new homes in tsunami-ravaged areas is stuck in banks, leaving tens of thousands of evacuees facing a fourth winter in temporary dwellings. Japanese government funds budgeted for reconstruction and transferred to local governments are stuck in banks across the tsunami-ravaged northeast, a Reuters review of budget and bank deposit data and interviews with bank officials reveals.

tsunami financing

Read the full special report.

Journalist spotlight: Brian Winter on his special report

Last week, Reuters published a Special Report looking at Brazil’s complex relationship with race as reflected in the candidacy of Marina Silva, who despite being black herself trailed President Dilma Rousseff among black voters. The reasons behind Silva’s struggles speak volumes about Brazil’s history, its complex relationship with race and the recent social progress that has made Rousseff a slight favorite to win a second term despite a stagnant economy. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Brazil Correspondent Brian Winter offers an inside look at the reporting behind the story.

Q. How did you get started on this story?

A. This has been one of the craziest presidential campaigns in Brazilian history. One of the candidates died in a plane crash just six weeks before the election, and his running mate, Marina Silva, replaced him. Silva then soared in the polls and it looked like she might become the country’s first black president. But even when Silva was doing really well, we saw buried deep in the poll data that she was actually losing among the half of Brazilian voters who are of African descent. We found that surprising, especially when you consider that Barack Obama had support from more than 90 percent of African-American voters when he was elected. Above all, we thought that would be a fresh and compelling way to explain this volatile election – and why President Dilma Rousseff was still in front.

Q. What types of reporting/sourcing were involved?

A. We spoke to nearly 30 people for this story. We interviewed Silva and asked her about what it would mean to be Brazil’s first black president, and asked her why she thought she was trailing among black voters. We also talked to three ministers in Rousseff’s government, who gave us insight and data showing why she was still ahead in the polls and doing particularly well with this demographic. I talked to a few historians and sociologists, who explained why race has always been viewed differently in Brazil compared to, say, the United States. And finally, I talked to voters of color in three different cities to get their views on Silva and this election.

Q. What was the hardest part about reporting this story? (more…)

Stephen Grey on the Reuters Investigation into how Russia does business in the Putin era

Recently, Reuters produced a series of investigations into how Russia does business in the Putin era. The three-part series exposed, among other findings, how millions of dollars from Russian taxpayers were paid to a company secretly owned by two associates of President Vladimir Putin – money that appears to have helped fund a palatial private estate on the Black Sea known as “Putin’s palace.” In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, investigative reporter Stephen Grey, who appeared on BBC and other outlets to discuss the investigation, offers the story-behind-the-story of the Reuters series, “Comrade Capitalism.”

Q. How did you get started on this story?

A. The idea for this story came from Tim Heritage, the Moscow bureau chief, who said: why not aim high and examine the wealth of Putin and those around him. We know that many well-connected people in Russia have got fabulously wealthy under Putin and there have been various rumours about his own assets. But there have been few details of exactly how the Russian elite do business in the Putin era. So we decided to investigate.

Q. What types of reporting/sourcing is involved in covering this story? (more…)

Multiple Sclerosis – graphic of the day

In recognition of World Multiple Sclerosis Day (May 28th), we produced an infographic illustrating the global footprint of MS ten years ago, today and what it is anticipated to be in ten years’ time. We have also created a special report on recent clinical trials with investigational agents for MS. Multiple sclerosis is chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that is pathologically characterized by demyelination and neurodegeneration, resulting in the accumulation of irreversible disabilities such as muscle weakness, visual disturbances and other neurological impairments. MS is an extremely variable illness, ranging in severity from relatively benign to devastating. Read more on the Life Sciences Connect blog.

multiple sclerosis

 

High-speed money – graphic of the day

A Reuters investigation found that the state-owned rail giant, run by an old friend of President Vladimir Putin, awards vast sums to contractors who disguise their ownership. Today’s graphic shows how Russian Railways paid state funds to Setstroienergo, it’s main contractor for upgrading a line from St. Petersburg to Finland, and how Setstroienergo often paid the same or similar amounts straight on to another company, StroiMontazh, at another bank. Read part three of the Reuters Investigates special report on how Russian Railways paid billions of dollars to secretive private companies.

special reports

 

Closing in on Zhou’s circle – graphic of the day

After former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang fell from grace, many of his aides and associates have been placed under investigation. He and his wife are currently under house arrest. In a campaign unprecedented in modern China, Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined to bring down Zhou for making a behind-the-scenes grab for power, the sources say. Today’s graphic diagrams Zhou Yongkang’s inner circle.

Zhou Yongkang

Read the Reuters special report on the power struggle behind China’s corruption crackdown.