Applications are now open for three spots in ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. We’re seeking local journalists who are interested in investigating wrongdoing and abuses of power in their communities.
Our new partnerships will begin on April 1, 2023, and continue for one year. This group of projects is made possible by a grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The following categories of newsrooms are eligible to apply:
- Public media organizations.
- Local nonprofit journalism outlets that are members of the Institute for Nonprofit News.
- News organizations (nonprofit or for-profit) in communities supported by Knight Foundation programs: Aberdeen, South Dakota; Akron, Ohio; Biloxi, Mississippi; Boulder, Colorado; Bradenton, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Georgia; Detroit; Duluth, Minnesota; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Lexington, Kentucky; Long Beach, California; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Milledgeville, Georgia; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Palm Beach County, Florida; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; St. Paul, Minnesota; State College, Pennsylvania; Tallahassee, Florida; and Wichita, Kansas.
ProPublica will pay the salary (up to $75,000), plus an allowance for benefits, for each full-time reporter. Local reporters work from and report to their home newsrooms, while receiving extensive support and guidance for their work from ProPublica, including collaboration with a senior editor and access to ProPublica’s expertise with data, research, engagement, video and design. The work will be published or broadcast by your newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.
ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms. It has since worked with more than 50 news organizations. The network is part of ProPublica’s local initiative, which includes offices in the Midwest, South and Southwest, plus an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune.
The Local Reporting Network has had a significant impact in the communities where it has partnered with newsrooms.
MLK50, a nonprofit news organization in Memphis, Tennessee, reported on how the area’s largest hospital system sued and garnished the wages of thousands of poor patients, including its own employees, for unpaid medical debts. The hospital subsequently curtailed its lawsuits against patients, erased $11.9 million in unpaid medical debts, dramatically expanded its financial assistance policy for hospital care and raised the minimum wage it pays employees. The stories won the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.
Our partnership with the Miami Herald looked at the deeply troubled Florida program intended to provide services and a financial cushion for the families of children born with devastating brain injuries. The series found that the program protected doctors at the expense of suffering families and that it had amassed $1.5 billion in assets while families waited for help. The reporting pushed the state Legislature to quickly enact long-needed reforms and spurred the program’s executive director to roll out further benefits for the families and subsequently resign.
And our collaboration with Nashville Public Radio (WPLN) went deep into one county in Tennessee that was arresting and locking up children at extraordinary rates. The series about Rutherford County was read more than 3.5 million times and spurred demands for reform. Eleven members of Congress called for the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. Tennessee’s governor called for a review of Rutherford County’s juvenile court judge. In January 2022, legislators introduced a bill to remove the judge, citing an “appalling abuse of power.” An hour after ProPublica wrote about that bill, the judge announced that she would retire this year rather than run for reelection.
Applications to join the Local Reporting Network should be submitted by newsroom leaders proposing a particular project and a specific reporter. If you lead a newsroom and are interested in working with us, we’d like to hear from you about:
- An investigative project. The proposed coverage can take any number of forms: a few long stories, an ongoing series of shorter stories, text, audio, video or something else. Please tell us why this coverage will be crucial to your community, lay out any similar coverage that has been done before it, say why this project has particular urgency now and offer a plan for executing the work. Please also explain why your region and your newsroom are right to tell this particular story.
- The reporter whom you ideally envision spearheading the work and the market salary you would need to pay them from April 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024. This could be someone already on staff or someone else — for example, a freelancer with whom you hope to work. Please include a personal statement by the reporter explaining their interest, at least three clips and, of course, a resume.
Freelancers are also welcome to apply but must submit a joint application with an eligible news organization willing to publish their work.
We will be holding a Q&A webinar about this opportunity on Jan. 3, 2023, at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Please sign up to receive an email invitation to join us over Zoom.
Please submit your proposal using this form by Feb. 1, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. We have a detailed list of frequently asked questions available on our site. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, please email us at [email protected].
ProPublica reporters and editors are also available to give feedback on your application before you submit it. Please send your proposals to [email protected] no later than Jan. 13 and someone will get back to you within a few days. Entries will be judged principally by ProPublica editors. Selected proposals will be announced in March.