Using official documents during an investigation

Atomic Fallout” is a joint investigation, done by multiple newsrooms, including The Missouri Independent, MuckRock and The Associated Press, of the St. Louis region’s 75-year history with nuclear waste. The outlets reviewed thousands of documents, many of which were either recently declassified or have never been reviewed. What they found was federal agencies knew about radioactive contamination into soil, groundwater and a creek neighborhood children played in, and downplayed it, likely resulting in rare cancers, autoimmune disorders and other illnesses.

As the SPJ Code of Ethics states, the highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public, which is done through the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. “Atomic Fallout” is a thorough investigation of government documents that were either unknown or not properly studied. The Code also states that journalists should “provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate” and “explain ethical choices and processes to audiences.” The report provides all the documents that were investigated and explains why they decided to do this investigation in the first place.