October 1, 2017

Current Project

National Investigative Network Launches Canada’s Largest-Ever Journalistic Collaboration

The National Student Investigative Reporting Network (NSIRN) is proud to announce the launch of the largest journalistic collaboration ever in Canada, bringing together more than 50 journalists and journalism students to examine the hidden costs of the oil and gas industry to Canadians.

Over the course of the past year, 34 journalism students from four schools – Concordia, Ryerson, Regina and UBC – worked with journalists at the Toronto Star, Global News and the National Observer. Together, they analyzed hundreds of documents, terabytes of data, interviewed countless experts and created an investigative series of vital public interest that is entirely unique and scope and scale in this country.

The resulting stories, being published in all three media outlets, reveal never-before-seen details about the impact of the oil industry on communities in Saskatchewan and Ontario, the financial underpinnings of political decisions affecting the industry and how governments responsible for monitoring serious health risks to residents and industry workers have acted in the public interest.

Our first articles and broadcasts, which appeared on Oct. 1, reported the contents of hundreds of internal Saskatchewan government and industry documents never before seen that reveal industry and provincial government officials were aware of significant public safety hazards from potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas since 2012.

For years, amid troubling emission data and oil facility failures, they debated about whether or not to share this information with the public.

In the end, it was not shared.

Until now.

Our reporting uncovered ongoing public complaints about H2S emissions in the province that have sickened and hospitalized residents with no public warnings, fines or prosecutions.

It’s a project that has spanned the country, helped address the reporting challenges presented by Canada’s vast geography and regional divisions, built bridges between classrooms and newsrooms, reversed the shrinking resources of mainstream media organizations that has undermined so much ambitious investigative work, held governments and industry to account and, most importantly, presented Canadians with significant new information.

Funding for the research for this project was provided through the Michener Foundation and Corporate Mapping Project. The final product, which gives a voice to communities that are central to the industry, is a cutting-edge is example of what can be achieved when journalists, students and academics work together.

We are calling on Canadian educational institutions, the federal and provincial governments, and on our readers to support NSIRN and other efforts like it.

Ours is a uniquely Canadian solution to a uniquely Canadian problem, drawing on one of our greatest assets: Our ability to get along in the interests of the collective.

We need support to carry out the watchdog function that we, and journalists like us, want to serve in the public interest.

We need your help! To donate to our network’s current project, “The Price of Oil,” please click here.

Below is an overview of some of the inital stories published through this project. Visit the Price of Oil publications page for a comprehensive list of all our coverage.

Read more about the initiative in this J-Source story.