E&T’s top 10 investigations of 2020
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2020 was a wild year and gave ample reason for E&T to explore a whole range of investigations and analysis pieces. We revisit a few for you.
This year was another stepping stone for E&T to up the quality of our investigations. We pushed boundaries in our reporting by using more data and open-source intelligence (OSINT). We used satellite data, consulted with whistleblowers and sent freedom of information requests to government bodies. The result, we think, is not to be sneezed at. Here's our pick of this year's top ten investigations.
In January and February, an investigation explored the doings of a prominent UK climate change denial group. Under current conditions, the group can increase its clout to influence economic and climate-change-related policy. This piece made some waves within the IET but the editorial management stood firm and found no problem. The lobbyists’ orchestrated criticism, a group of climate change sceptics with connection to high-level politicians, did not manage to make us remove the online piece that criticised them with valid evidence.
In March, we performed a deep-dive into the effects body cameras, worn by law enforcement in the UK, have on society. We gauged how these devices impact both the life of the public and that of police officers. Freedom of Information requests sent to forces yielded insight into where UK police forces upgrade and raised questions on how data is being reported.
In April, after the pandemic hit hard, sources and data shared enabled us to piece together a detailed picture of how disinformation and fake news is spread by Russian online media. How this involves the Kremlin was another question we tried to answer. The government is often passively involved but still not without responsibility.
In June, we analysed smart-gun technology in the US. We calculated a human cost-benefit analysis that an introduction of the lethal devices could herald. We also concluded that companies, mainly startups, involved in their release could be in for another round of failure. No matter what tech solution a nation like America adopts, "zero guns would be better than smart guns," as one expert put it.
In July, we looked into tasers and how UK police forces appear to use them disproportionately against black and minority groups. Video material from two cases - from black NHS worker Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara and also from Trevaile Wyse - bring proof of the responsibility police has in carrying tasers and the devastating effects they have if rules how to use then are unheeded. Training curriculums and manuals are still kept under lock and key which has to change if the public is to be included in how officers are being trusted with taser devices.
In August, we investigated The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and grotesque comments made by both by Egyptian and Ethiopian news media, researchers and social media users. Disagreement about controlling the filling of the dam project risks exacerbating conflict between the nations involved. Since our piece ran, Ethiopia engaged in the Tigray conflict and Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 US election means probably a loss of an ally for Egypt.
In September, our investigation collected incident reports on attacks perpetrated by drug cartels on mining companies and operations. The sheer amount served ample clues on the perils mining project face. One proud future one that Mexico's government green-lighted is the nation's first lithium exploration project that could make the country rich. But we checked the company who is in charge of carrying out the operation and analysed what aspects of risks it chooses to ignore.
In October, we published a piece on the devastating effects America's oil boom has on the climate and on local residents, especially those living in the Permian Basin. Satellite images pinpointed where one woman suffered subsequent health problems as new oil and gas wells moved close to her home.
In November, we analysed how the British Navy is responding to a growing global sea-mine threat and what the short and medium-term implications are for the government’s increasingly technological advanced strategy when it comes to mine counter measures. E&T located where complications and bottlenecks may loom.
In December we collaborated with a team of top-notch EU cross-border journalists on a satellite investigation about biomass. We compared forest cover loss in the Baltic country of Estonia with British wood pellets imports and found that large parts of EU protected forests vanished as the renewable biomass boom in Britain enters its second round.
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