Fund journalism projects directly

Get access to every story on Beacon

Directly fund your favorite writers

Beacon empowers writers by letting you fund their work directly. That means you, the reader, decide which writers and stories get published instead of advertisers.

Support journalism around the world

There are hundreds of projects on Beacon that you can fund directly. We’ve made it easy to browse and search for topics you’ll love. With Beacon, you can enable journalism all around the world.

Pledge on your own terms

It’s easy to enable great journalism through one-time pledges or ongoing subscriptions. You can pay by credit card, PayPal, or Amazon, and cancel your subscriptions at any time.

A clean, ad-free reading experience

Beacon was designed from the ground up to be a clean and simple reading experience that looks and feels great on any screen. It wasn’t easy, but trust us, it was worth it.

We’re planning a national reporting project to uncover how local police agencies and governments across the country are using surveillance technology to collect and store information on ordinary Americans.

Back this work
*This project is live and producing stories.
At $5,220 The Center for Investigative Reporting is providing sustainable reporting you won't get anywhere else.

You’re being watched.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and local taxpayers, police departments across the country are collecting unprecedented amounts of information about Americans. They’re using images from bridge crossings, GPS data, facial recognition, smart video motion recognition, license-plate readers, camera networks and other technology to create or expand surveillance hubs on a citywide or regional level.

The Center for Investigative Reporting is deeply interested in the emerging technologies that could revolutionize policing – and how the public is monitored by the government.

Our team of reporters and producers – Andrew Becker, Matt Drange, Amanda Pike, G.W. Schulz and Ali Winston – will work with CIR editors to uncover this issue, from California’s Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., and local communities. We’re experts at getting access to crucial documents and making sense of data. Our goal is to harness the power of investigative journalism to produce stories that engage the public, spark action and protect our democracy.

Here’s what you’ll get for subscribing:

Original, never-before-reported information on how local governments and law enforcement approach surveillance from a team of experienced reporters at CIR. This is long-form investigative journalism rich with data and graphics.

Access to exclusive online discussions with the reporters and behind-the-scenes stories.

Invitations to special screenings and events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.15.40 AM.png

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response Division has access to 1,000 surveillance cameras. CREDIT: G.W. Schulz/CIR

Your money will be used to

Pursue public records requests and, if necessary, file legal action to uncover important documents on surveillance activities.

Fund travel to cities and towns across the country to understand how residents are being affected.

Create community engagement events where local citizens can learn about and debate the rise of surveillance.

Produce thought-provoking text, video and radio stories for CIR and our high-profile media partners.

New technologies are forcing the public and law enforcement to answer some critical questions: Can police use these new tools to solve crimes without threatening to undermine the nation’s constitutional values? Where are Americans willing to draw that line?

See our previous reporting on the issue: http://cironline.org/surveillance

About The Center for Investigative Reporting

CIR is an award-winning nonprofit, independent newsroom based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more: http://cironline.org

Since 1977, CIR has relentlessly pursued and revealed injustices that otherwise would remain hidden from the public eye. Our stories arm the public with the facts needed to spark federal legislation, policy changes at all levels of government, public interest lawsuits, reforms in corporate practices and more. CIR investigations are at the center of news reports and community conversations.

In the past year, CIR has won an Emmy Award, a George Foster Peabody Award, a Barlett & Steele gold award, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, a George Polk Award, two Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards for multiplatform journalism and an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting. CIR also was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for public service.


CIR’s surveillance team includes staffers Andrew Becker, Matt Drange, Amanda Pike and G.W. Schulz and freelance correspondent Ali Winston.

Thanks for your support!

May 20 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for your support for The Center for Investigative Reporting’s project to find out the true story of government surveillance on the local level. We’ve raised nearly $5,000 so far!

But we need your help to get the word out. If you have friends or family who would be interested in this project, please consider emailing them this link to the project page or sharing it on Facebook:


Most support comes from people spreading the word through Facebook and e-mail. If you think these stories are important (trust us, they are!), telling a few close friends about it goes a very long way.

Thanks again for your support and helping us hold the government accountable.

When you back something on Beacon, you also get access to every story by every other writer.
$5per month
Monthly subscription
Story alerts for new stories from The Center for Investigative Reporting and BEACON. You’ll get the opportunity to read exclusive stories from CIR and every story by every writer on BEACON. You can cancel at any time.
15 claimed
$10per month
Monthly super subscription
Thanks for giving a bit more to make these stories possible. You’ll get a special badge on your BEACON profile noting your added support for The Center for Investigative Reporting. You’ll also receive access to CIR and BEACON stories. You can cancel at any time.
2 claimed
$15per month
Monthly super schwag subscription
For adding that extra bump in your support, you’ll get a CIR tote bag with a surprise gift inside. You also will get a special badge on your BEACON profile noting your added support for The Center for Investigative Reporting and access to CIR and BEACON stories. You can cancel at any time.
3 claimed
$55per year
Yearly subscription
You’ll get a yearlong subscription to CIR’s work on Beacon. This subscription will automatically renew after one year.
7 claimed
Yearly subscription + share with friend
You’ll get a yearlong subscription to BEACON *AND* an additional yearlong gift subscription to share with a friend. You both will also be signed up to receive story alerts from The Center for Investigative Reporting. We’ll be in touch to send your gift as soon as this project successfully finishes. Your subscriptions to BEACON will expire after a year.
10 claimed
Yearly subscription + schwag
Hooray, you’re onboard for a year! As a token of our gratitude, we’ll send you a CIR tote bag with a surprise gift inside, and you’ll get a special badge on your BEACON profile. You’ll be signed up to receive story alerts from The Center for Investigative Reporting and BEACON and access to all their stories. This subscription will not autorenew.
7 claimed
One-time pledge
We invite you to tour The Center for Investigative Reporting’s offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. You’ll meet key editors and reporters (as available). We’ll also send you a CIR tote bag with a surprise gift inside, and you’ll get a special badge on your BEACON profile. You’ll be signed up to receive story alerts from CIR and BEACON and access to all their stories. You can cancel these emails at any time.
2 claimed
Super supporter
Thanks for your tremendous support. We’ll give you five yearly subscriptions, a tour of The Center for Investigative Reporting’s office and a swag bag for your pledge at this level.
2 claimed
Institutional package
Perfect for your group or business. You’ll get up to 20 year-long subscriptions to hand out, and will get a tour of The Center for Investigative Reporting’s office, as well as five swag bags.
Claim this
Note: All pledges are in USD. If you'd like to pledge at a level that isn't listed here, please get in touch.

The Center for Investigative Reporting BIOGRAPHY

Andrew Becker covers border and national security issues for CIR. His reporting has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and PBS FRONTLINE. Before joining CIR in 2008, he was a fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he reported on human smuggling and corruption along the Southwest U.S.-Mexico border for a joint New York Times and PBS FRONTLINE/World production.

Matt Drange covers Silicon Valley for CIR, with a focus on the region’s intersection with government, money and power, and technology. Before moving to the Bay Area, he covered politics for the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. Matt started his career at the Eureka Times-Standard.

Amanda Pike is the producer of The I Files, an investigative news YouTube channel curated by CIR. Previously, she spent 15 years reporting and producing documentaries for PBS, CBS, ABC, National Geographic, A&E, Lifetime and The Learning Channel, among others. Subjects have ranged from militia members in Utah to young entrepreneurs in Egypt and genocide perpetrators in Cambodia. Amanda also has delved into fiction filmmaking, producing the short film “On the Assassination of the President,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Princeton University and a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

G.W. Schulz is an investigative reporter focused on homeland security for CIR. Since joining CIR in 2008, he’s reported stories for National Public Radio, Wired.com, The Daily Beast, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Mother Jones and more. Prior to that, he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Urban Tulsa. He was an early contributor to The Chauncey Bailey Project, which won a Tom Renner Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors in 2008. G.W. graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at The University of Kansas.

Ali Winston covers law enforcement, criminal justice and surveillance for numerous publications. His writing has won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the New York Community Media Alliance, CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California chapter. He is originally from New York City.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Beacon?

    Beacon lets you back original reporting by experienced writers around the world. By backing one writer you get access to their stories as well as every story by every writer on Beacon.

  • How does Beacon work?

    You pay a monthly or one-time fee that directly supports a writer of your choice. They use that money to find and publish new and exclusive stories that you want to read. You get access to their stories so long as you back their work.

  • How do I read the stories?

    You'll get an e-mail update whenever the writer you back posts a new story. You can read them online or on mobile through this site. We'll also send you a weekly e-mail newsletter, with the best stories across Beacon.

  • Do I need a recurring subscription?

    Although a recurring subscription is the best way to support a project, you can also pay upfront for a fixed-length subscription. You can cancel a recurring subscription at any time.

  • Is this different than crowdfunding?

    It is a new form of crowdfunding. Traditional crowdfunding isn't well suited to journalism because it requires on going support. Beacon helps make crowdfunded journalism more sustainable.

  • How can I help this project succeed?

    Tell a friend. Sharing this page by email is best, but sharing on Facebook and Twitter can help spread the word and make sure the project is fully funded.

Stories about Your Neighborhood NSA need to be told

Help The Center for Investigative Reporting bring them to BEACON. At $5,220, The Center for Investigative Reporting can provide sustainable reporting on the topic you won't get anywhere else.

Back this work