ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

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An Investigation Into How Deaths in America Are Examined

On Feb. 1, 2011, ProPublica, FRONTLINE and NPR will begin airing and publishing the results of a year-long investigation into the dysfunctional system that determines how Americans die titled "Post Mortem." The newsrooms found a system in which there are few standards, little oversight, and the mistakes are literally buried. In state after state, reporters found autopsies conducted by doctors who lacked certification and training. Ultimately, the errors made by coroners and forensic pathologists have allowed potentially guilty perpetrators to go free and the innocent to be accused of crimes they did not commit.

ProPublica's A.C. Thompson was our lead reporter, and his work, produced in conjunction with that of many other reporters, will be available here the morning of Feb. 1. ProPublica will also be publishing stories on California's coroners with help from California Watch, a Berkeley-based journalism nonprofit, and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. Some of those stories will appear on both ProPublica's website and CaliforniaWatch.org.

In addition to our report, NPR will air stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on the night of Feb. 1 at 9 p.m., PBS FRONTLINE will air their one-hour documentary "Post Mortem." Watch a preview of the show at FRONTLINE and visit their website to find your local listings.