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The first tip didn’t sound like that much of a story—they often don’t. “There’s something going on at my friend Alfonso’s building,” an acquaintance told Mother Jones reporter Hannah Levintova about a year ago. “It’s something to do with private equity. You should talk to him.” Hannah was finishing up an MBA program at the time because she wanted to understand the darker corners of the financial industry. As she dug into the saga of 70 Prospect Park West, she found one of those corners.
“This isn’t just a story about housing,” she realized. “It’s about turning social goods, needs, and pleasures into a vehicle for maximizing value for wealthy investors. We should write something big about it.”
That was the start of one of the most sweeping reporting packages Mother Jones has done in some time, a newsroom-wide effort nearly six months in the making, culminating with more than a dozen stories, videos, data visualizations, and a full issue of our print magazine. All to explore what has become one of the most powerful—but mostly hidden—forces in the global economy: private equity.
You can read the entire package here, and I’ll let Hannah take you on a guided tour of the reporting itself. But putting it together also gave us a window into the relationship between journalism and capitalism, and that’s something I wanted to dig into a little. Full disclosure: We also need to close a considerable $225,000 gap in our online fundraising budget by June 30, so I’ll be asking for donations as I go—because Mother Jones is one thing private equity will never own any piece of.  

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