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Hey there. Welcome to the weekend (almost.) 

Here’s what we have for you this week: 

Since 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the U.S. Postal Service for exposing about 900 employees across the country to heat-related illness and death. 

Some symptoms postal workers suffer from in extreme heat, according to inspection records: 

  • Extreme muscle cramps

  • Losing consciousness 

  • Feeling shooting pains in their head and chest 

  • Vomiting while walking

With the effects of climate change are causing temperatures to surge, records show that USPS hasn’t prioritized workers’ health in extreme weather conditions

Related: July was the hottest month in recorded history. Here’s how last month unfolded around the world. (via Washington Post) 

Quotable: “This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now, and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action." - Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization. 

Where Trump was: Trump was in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, this week after horrific mass shootings in both cities last weekend. Most residents were not happy about his being there. (via the New York Times)

Our context: We write about how Trump’s rhetoric isn’t something new. Attacking immigrants with racist language has been on a constant boil for years. 

A largely Hispanic city, El Paso criticized the president’s rhetoric and inaction on  reforming gun laws. (via Texas Tribune)

Despite Trump’s saying that he would  provide El Paso with “whatever it needed,” Trump still owes the city a cool $569,204 in security bills for a MAGA rally he held there in February. 

Related: U.S. immigration officials raided seven Mississippi chicken processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in the largest workplace sting in at least a decade. (via AP)

What else we published this week: Newly obtained documents reveal early bankrollers of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s first successful political campaign.

ICYMI: This week was the 54th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law aimed to help African Americans overcome legal barriers that prevented them to vote at the state and local levels. 

While voting *should* be a fundamental American right, there are a lot of barriers to who has access to the ballot box. Alex Ura, the Texas Tribune’s demographics reporter, investigated the state’s purging of voter rolls. 

Texas announced in late January that it had found nearly 100,000 “possible non-U.S. citizens” on the voter rolls, and was initiating a process that could lead to the purging of many of them from the rolls. The Tribune’s newsroom knew from the start that the state’s list of supposed suspect voters likely included naturalized citizens because of the flawed method they used to compile the list. The Tribune proved the fact within days

 How did you get the story? What led you to pursue it?

Our ability to break stories throughout the debacle was largely thanks to the unique expertise and sourcing that comes from working a beat before news breaks. I knew — as did state officials — that these types of reviews had run into similar issues in other states. And it was local county officials who tipped me off when state officials began to quietly inform them their original list included U.S. citizens; those officials shared emails from the secretary of state’s office in which officials implied that naturalized citizens were on the list far before they publicly acknowledged it, and they confirmed that the state mistakenly flagged U.S. citizens a second time.

My professional and personal knowledge (my dad and several family members are naturalized citizens) about how the naturalization process works was also key to our innate understanding of why the state’s original claim was likely wrong.

But we were ultimately driven to pursue this reporting, which included more than 20 stories in the first four weeks, by the state’s tarnished history of discriminating against voters of color and our desire to show how this was affecting naturalized citizens on the state’s list, who we were able to find even though the state continues to decline to release its list.

2. What were the challenges of reporting and how did you navigate them?

The state’s election system is incredibly decentralized so one of the biggest challenges in reporting this story was the need to constantly take stock of how 254 county officials were each responding to the state’s directive on how to review the citizenship of these voters, particularly when the secretary of state’s office was being far from transparent about the issues with its review. 

In light of that, our strategy was to reach out to election officials in the 15 counties with the most registered voters and then constantly check in with them over the next few weeks.

I kept a running spreadsheet to track my progress, listing out the number of voters flagged for review in each county, the number that dropped to after state officials informed them of their mistakes, how many more voters they were able to clear through other records and the last time I had reached out to each county.

That’s how we ended up being able to report that some voters would be receiving requests to prove their citizenship within days of the state’s announcement and later that election officials were being told that the state’s voter registration manager was unavailable when she had actually resigned days before. And we wouldn’t have gotten the story about the state quietly walking back its claims, which was key to unraveling the problems with the state’s review, without those repeated calls.

Takeaways: Sometimes your personal knowledge can help inform your reporting.

More 2020 news: Data from our look at Democratic fundraising has spurred stories from several other newsrooms reporting on 2020 fundraising:

If you’re in local or regional media and want in on slices of our donor database covering 94% of individual contributions (by dollars) to Democratic presidential candidates in 2019 for their state or a specific candidate, holler at Data Editor Chris Zubak-Skees at czubakskees@publicintegrity.org

Muckraker read: In the military, survivors of sexual assault by their fellow service members benefit from legal representation via the special victims’ counsel program. Soon, this support will be extended to cover domestic assault as well. But civilian survivors of assault by service members are left to fend for themselves. (via The Marshall Project)

Thanks for reading until the end. As a sign of appreciation we want to give you a sneak peek into our newsroom. 

Reporter: (looks at writing on whiteboard) It’s like “A Beautiful Mind.” 
Editor: Yeah, but my mind isn’t a beautiful place. 

See you next week. 

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