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Berkeley Journalists Shake Up California’s Public Schools

Last night, the Berkeley headquartered Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) released the first of a three-part, 19-month investigation into seismic safety at California public schools. Flanked by today’s press release, the shocking revelations are being furiously picked up by local outlets all across the not-so-Golden State.

Mark Katches, editorial director of “California Watch”, the newer CIR state-focused project responsible for the report, has blogged the fascinating background details. The intrepid author of parts one and three, Corey G. Johnson, joined the organization in 2009 from the east coast; this, it turns out, is his first byline! Notes Katches:

For months, Johnson worked on the story alone in our Sacramento bureau under the supervision of his editor, Robert Salladay. He became a virtual embed at the Division of the State Architect. Routinely, Johnson hauled our 30-pound copy machine several blocks to make copies–cutting down on copying costs…

He became so well sourced that officials inside the state architect’s office began feeding him more and more documents… Sources handed him files of internal e-mails, memos and confidential records that had never before been made public. A treasure trove.

This is a tremendously impressive bit of reporting by the CIR. Part two by Erica Perez comes out tomorrow, and there is also an interactive database that can be searched by concerned parents as well as a special earthquake preparedness coloring book created by “California Watch” for five to 10-year-olds. Bravo!

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