China COVID clampdown, Venezuela dodges sanctions through UAE, Mississippi child support contractors

This week's best document-based investigative journalism

China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins

The Associated Press citing documents from China’s cabinet and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government is handing out (...) grants to scientists researching the virus’ origins. But it is monitoring their findings and mandating that the publication of any data or research must be approved by a new task force managed by China’s cabinet, according to documents.

UAE emerges as hub for companies helping Venezuela avoid U.S. oil sanctions

Reuters citing internal shipping documents from Venezuela's state oil company.

In June, the United States imposed sanctions on half a dozen oil tankers managed by established shipping firms. Within weeks, a little-known company based in the United Arab Emirates took over management of several tankers that had been shipping Venezuelan oil. The vessels got new names. And then they resumed transporting Venezuelan crude.

Who’s getting rich off Mississippi's child support? (Hint: It’s not the moms)

Mississippi Today citing internal scoring sheets that show a wealthy government contractor received fewer points than its industry rival.

Before the department issued [a child support] bid, consultants told agency leaders that the initial pilot supplied no evidence that the services had improved under [contractor] YoungWilliams, according to emails and documents. But the agency moved forward anyway.


The words "according to documents" in a news story signal investigative journalism of the highest caliber.

We want to celebrate reporting based on government or corporate reports, emails, private chat messages or something equally tangible—as opposed to that based on unnamed sources or rumors.

The idea is imperfect, of course, and some excellent reporting will be based on no documents and some terrible reporting will be based on many documents. But ultimately, it's a great rule of thumb.

According to Documents was created by investigative reporters Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer.

Got a suggestion?

Help us highlight worthwhile reporting by submitting it on our website or emailing us (hit reply!). We welcome work by freelancers, smaller publications and journalists covering underreported issues or countries.