Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On Track For Disaster

Phil Pitchford, Ben Goad, David Danelski and Mark Kawar of The Press-Enterprise based in Riverside, Calif., have put together one of the most impressive multi-media investigative reports I've ever seen. In "Toxic Cargo" they look at the dangers of chemical spills from the increasing number of freight trains passing through their region. By using the Freedom of Information Act, they uncovered the risks of uneven train tracks, faulty inspections, incorrect cargo records, old rail cars and mishandled evacuations. They also share the history of deadly train spills in North Dakota and South Carolina. The lessons they report apply to any populated area, like my own Chicago, that is crossed by rail lines. Just as impressive as the reporting is the way The Press-Enterprise presents the story. In addition to the main stories, the package includes videos, slide shows, audio of 911 calls and even interactive animation to show the dangers of a toxic spill. This is multi-media storytelling at its best. My thanks to Investigative Reporters and Editors for bringing my attention to this story.


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