After Schuster winds down, Justice Brandeis Law Project remains in operation

After the shutdown of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, its Brandeis Justice Law Project (JBLP) remains in operation. Although the general atmosphere of the institute changed, the work done at the JBLP continues like it did before, according to JBLP member Jason Kwan ’20.

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a pioneer in nonprofit journalism, was first launched in 2004, by investigative journalist and editor Florence Graves. The goal was “to investigate significant social and political problems and human rights issues and uncover corporate and government abuses of power.”  

The institute was shut down in December 2018, due to financial difficulties, which were limiting the work of the institute. The Justice Brandeis Law Project (JBLP) is the only Schuster program which is still operating to finish ongoing projects. JBLP uses investigative journalism techniques to examine possible miscarriages of criminal justice, and employs student researchers who can train there as an internship for Brandeis’ journalism minor.

Despite the shutdown, the work being done by students in the institute have not experienced major changes, according to Kwan. “The amount that Schuster employees can get done is very much based on their own skills and abilities,” and no longer having an office does not change that, said Kwan in an interview with The Hoot.

“Since I can no longer work in the office, I usually work in some space at the library … Most of the work that Schuster does is independent work, and the fact is that we are still on collaborative teams, but comparing this to a student project that you do for any class, you won’t have to meet up with people to work on individual projects,” Kwan continued.

A majority of the employees at the project are student researchers, most of whom work remotely, said Kwan. “Everyone has their own specific assignment, and we work through it on our own if we need some supplementary information or help, we will contact our supervisors, but otherwise the work done is pretty much continuing as normal,” he continued.

Although the length of Schuster’s existence is under question, the importance of the project and its legacy are undoubtable, said Kwan. “The people we assist in this project are people … who are vulnerable by the criminal justice system … the work that we can do to assist them in any way we can for investigative reporting is absolutely worthwhile,” concluded Kwan. How long the project will continue its operations, is unclear.

Celia Young contributed to this report.

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