Our Impact

The Eye’s mission is to produce impactful investigative reporting that holds the powerful accountable. The impact of our work, from changes in legislation to overturned convictions to increased awareness, is the metric by which we measure our success.

NOTABLE IMPACT

Elimination of DCF’s 2-tier intake system   Our “Out of the Shadows” investigation into child abuse and neglect fatalities in Massachusetts has had an immediate impact on statewide policy, think tank reports, and public awareness — in the form of more than twenty editorials, interviews, and related reports across the state. Reporter Jenifer McKim continues to investigate and the Department of Children and Families continues to announce reforms related to our findings, which include the elimination of a controversial 2-tier system used to evaluate risk and allocate resources. Governor Baker announced the elimination of the system after our report revealed that 10 children had died after having been placed on the lower-risk track.

Overturned conviction of Victor RosarioA 2010 investigation by NECIR shed light on the dubious claims that put then 24-year-old Victor Rosario behind bars with a life sentence in 1983 for arson and eight counts of murder. Rosario’s conviction was overturned 30 years later as a direct result of our investigation, which was published in the Boston Globe.

Increased FDA scrutiny and senate campaign – Four months after an NECIR investigation into Lyme disease testing centers, which exposed thousands of unregulated and unvalidated Lyme disease tests, the FDA announced its intention to scrutinize those and other diagnostic lab tests more closely. The announcement came at the urging of five senators who co-authored a letter to the Office of Management and Budget. Most recently, the FDA cited our work in a report on problematic laboratory developed tests that pledged increased regulation.

National conversation on administrative boom in higher education – Our investigation into the staggering rise in non-faculty administrative positions at U.S. colleges and universities sparked a nationwide examination of the trend, and has been cited by policy experts, higher education authorities, national journalists, and even presidential candidates. It also sparked localized reporting on the Administrative Boom by more than 25 university newspapers. 

Proposed legislation to protect vulnerable homeowners  NECIR’s investigation into the way municipalities sell tax liens to for-profit debt collectors  at the expense of vulnerable homeowners led to proposed legislation. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey backed the bill, which called for restrictions on gains made by third-party investment firms and a redirection of proceeds to the property owner or municipality.

Attorney General review of two earmarks in state budget – Our investigation into earmarks in the Massachusetts State Budget found $75k for an elusive East Boston jobs program and $30k for a church-affiliated Springfield health organization whose status as a public charity was unclear. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office launched reviews of both organizations in immediate response to our report.

Reform to Boston’s Department of Public Works “Holes in the System,” our investigation into the way Boston’s Department of Public Works has been falsely reporting its pothole repairs, sparked citywide coverage and a lively conversation that led to government reform. Months after publishing our findings, Mayor Walsh announced changes to the way pothole repairs would be reporded.

ONGOING IMPACT

Behind the Wall: Suicides Mount in Massachusetts County Jails

Kevin O’Loughlin is wrestling with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office for compensation under a 2004 law that grants damages for the wrongly convicted.

Gov. Baker unveils DCF reforms to ‘keep kids safe’

Gov. Charlie Baker announced today system-wide reforms in the troubled state Department of Children and Families – including policies to better assess safety risks to vulnerable children from the first calls of trouble to the closure of a case.

Federal bill calls for better education for prenatal genetic tests

Worried that too few doctors and pregnant women understand that new prenatal genetic tests can be wrong a significant amount of time, two U.S. Congresswomen from opposite ends of the abortion debate have introduced legislation that would provide warnings about limitations of the screens.

Massachusetts GOP demands explanation for $75,000 East Boston earmark

Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Kristen Hughes called out East Boston Democratic state Sen. Anthony Petruccelli today for sponsoring an earmark featured in a recent report by...

Campaign aims to educate women and doctors about prenatal genetic tests

Quest Diagnostics, one of nation’s largest diagnostic testing companies, is funding a nationwide campaign by the Perinatal Quality Foundation — a national non-profit dedicated to improving obstetrical car — to raise awareness of cell-free DNA tests. NECIR recently corresponded with Dr. Douglas S. Rabin from Quest and Dr. Mary Norton of the Perinatal Quality Foundation about this new initiative.

Healey backs new law protecting homeowners from tax lien sales

A representative from Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey's office testified Tuesday in favor of a bill meant to protect elderly and disabled residents who are struggling to pay past due municipal taxes. The legislation – “An Act Relative to the Improvement in the Process for Collecting Delinquent Property Taxes” – was discussed Tuesday morning in the state Joint Committee on Revenue.

Proposed law aims to protect homeowners from private tax lien sales

Newly proposed state legislation would limit the profits that private companies make by buying tax liens from cash-strapped municipalities and foreclosing on homes if...

Unexplained infant deaths to be reported to state social workers

Each year, dozens of Massachusetts children die suddenly and unexpectedly. But new guidelines — released in a report filed on the medical examiner’s website earlier this fall — already are prompting concern from some families and groups involved in the prevention of unexpected infant deaths, which include sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, as well as accidental suffocation and entrapment, and other unexplained causes.

“Virtual” school investigated by NECIR faces possible probation

The Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School, investigated by NECIR two years ago, had widespread problems. The state is now considering placing the school on probation.
FDA oversight will be phased in over nine years, with the first batch of highest-risk tests subject to FDA review a year after the proposed rules are finalized. (Lauren Owens/NECIR)

FDA to regulate Lyme, other diagnostic tests

The US Food and Drug Administration, responding to growing concerns that a host of tests for illnesses from cancer to Lyme disease may be inaccurately diagnosing patients, announced Thursday that it intends to regulate many of the tests.