Posted: Dec. 9, 2013 | Tags: tax lien
The Workshop pairs student journalists with professional reporters on contract with us to write either a specific story or series. These students have helped prize-winning investigative reporters develop their stories either directly, such as through interviews, FOIA requests, records searches, or indirectly, by creating spreadsheets of data collected by the reporter or fact-checking rough drafts or scripts.
We've extended this model now to include students working at The Washington Post under the direction of Senior Editor John Sullivan, who is also on the investigative team there. Today the Post published a first-rate example of this effort in practice: Alexia Campbell and Danielle DeCourcey interviewed nearly two dozen tax collectors across the country for a sidebar they wrote to the ongoing Washington Post investigative series "Homes for the Taking." The Post series shows how hundreds of District residents lost their homes through the city's sale of property tax liens to third-party investors. "I gained a real understanding of the meticulous reporting and fact- checking that goes into a Washington Post investigation," Campbell says.
Campbell and DeCourcey's article provides an overview of how other counties across the country collect delinquent property taxes and shows that few protect vulnerable homeowners from losing their property over an unpaid tax bill of a few hundred dollars.