In researching the series, Kansas City Star reporters conducted hundreds of interviews with human trafficking experts, government officials, prosecutors and law enforcement officers across the United States.
They sought out survivors of modern-day slavery, many of whom were reluctant to discuss their experiences. In every case, the newspaper followed ground rules suggested by anti-trafficking advocates in an effort to avoid re-traumatizing them.
In some cases, the newspaper withheld the names of survivors, or showed only a portion of their faces in photographs, in order to protect them from violent traffickers, some of whom remain at large. Some survivors, however, didn’t object to having their photos published as long as their full names weren’t disclosed.
Scenes in the Hostage House stories were based on extensive interviews with those involved in the trafficking case.