Help Me Investigate was a website that helped people and journalists who wanted to investigate questions in the public interest.
The site was launched in July 2009 with funding from Channel 4’s 4iP fund and Screen West Midlands.
Investigations undertaken by users of the site include the uncovering of a £2.2 million overspend on Birmingham City Council’s website; false claims by publishers of a free newspaper; the worst places for parking fines; the real average cost of weddings; legal issues surrounding recording council meetings; police claims of sabotage against Climate Camp protesters; how much higher education costs the taxpayer; who is responsible for an advertising screen; does scrapping speed cameras save money? Varying availability of hormonal contraceptive on the NHS, and the allocation of Olympic torchbearer places.
In 2010 the site was shortlisted and highly commended for Multimedia Publisher of the Year in the NUJ’s Regional Media Awards, and won ‘Best Investigation’ in the Talk About Local/Guardian Local awards.
In February 2011 the code for the original site was released under an open source licence to allow anyone to install their own crowdsourcing platform.
Stories and information uncovered by the site have been used by news organisations including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, Stoke Sentinel, Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Bournemouth Echo, Caledonian Mercury, Der Tagesspiegel, the Health Service Journal, BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio 4.
In January 2013 Help Me Investigate worked with the Birmingham Mail to launch the UK’s first regional newspaper datablog: Behind The Numbers.
A second version of HelpMeInvestigate.com focused on supporting a network of community editors who focus on specific issues. Those included:
- Help Me Investigate Health
- Help Me Investigate Education
- Help Me Investigate the Olympics
- Help Me Investigate Welfare
- General tips on investigative techniques, on the site blog.
In 2014 the site was put on ice in order to look at possible new collaborative investigation projects.
You can follow us on Twitter @helpmeinvestig8 or specific sites @HMI_health, @HMIwelfare, @HMIeducation and @HMIolympics, as well as our automatic aggregator of investigations around the web @HMInetworks.
If you want to get involved in any of these projects – or start a new one – email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are conducting research into the site, please check our page on Frequently asked questions and research.