Looking to deepen relationships with local newsrooms, ProPublica has opened up applications for five new two-year partnerships that would focus on abuses of power in their communities.
Since 2018, ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network has supported individual projects over the course of a year. We’ve worked on 90 projects with more than 70 newsrooms.
This new group of partnerships will be different. We are seeking to build sustained relationships with reporters and newsrooms that have a proven track record of investigative reporting and impact.
Successful applications will demonstrate past ability to execute investigative stories, strong reporting ties to the community and a range of story ideas that the reporter might take on over the two-year partnership. The new partnerships are supported by a grant from the Abrams Foundation and will begin on Jan. 2, 2024.
The Local Reporting Network is part of ProPublica’s local initiative, which includes offices in the Midwest, South, Southwest and Northwest, plus an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune.
As part of the program, ProPublica will pay each full-time reporter’s salary (up to $80,000), plus an allowance for benefits. We will also provide extensive support and editorial guidance, including collaboration with a senior editor and access to ProPublica’s expertise with data, research, engagement, video and design. Local reporters will work from and report to their home newsrooms; their work will be published or broadcast by your newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.
Applications are due Nov. 1, 2023, at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
Since its founding, several reporters have partnered with the Local Reporting Network for multiple years. Those sustained relationships have allowed us to deliver high-impact reporting to communities that urgently needed journalistic attention.
Since 2019, Kyle Hopkins at the Anchorage Daily News has delivered a stunning range of stories: His stories on the lack of law enforcement in rural parts of Alaska prompted a national emergency declaration from the U.S. attorney general; his reporting on the actions of two state attorneys general prompted their resignations; and his coverage of the work environment at the Anchorage library system was followed by the resignation of the library’s deputy director. Hopkins’ law enforcement coverage was recognized with the Pulitzer Prize for public service and other major journalism awards.
Molly Parker, reporting in southern Illinois, joined the program in 2018; her most recent project looked at deplorable conditions at a remote state facility for people with developmental disorders and mental illnesses. Documenting abuse and neglect of residents, the reporting also showed how staff had covered up their actions and continued to work with relative impunity. Since the reporting began, the state announced its intention to remove half of the residents from the facility, passed a new law increasing penalties for staff who cover up abuse and replaced the facility’s director. The project, done in collaboration with Lee Enterprises Midwest and Capitol News Illinois, received a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2023.
Applications should be submitted by newsroom leaders and will ask for the following information:
- The reporter whom you envision spearheading the work and the annual salary you would need to pay them. (Please provide an exact figure, not including benefits.) This could be someone on staff or a freelancer with whom you hope to work. (Freelancers must submit a joint application with an eligible news organization willing to publish their work.) The person must have an investigative track record to be considered for this position.
- A personal statement by the reporter explaining their interest in and history with investigative reporting.
- Three clips and an accompanying explanation of the backstory: particular challenges or successes; the role the reporter played; any impact; and journalistic lessons learned.
- A resume.
- A memo of stories you’d like to pursue during two years of intensive partnership with ProPublica. These should be stories that would benefit from a collaboration, potentially including data, research and engagement reporting resources we can provide. These may include big stories, an ongoing series of shorter stories, text, audio, video or something else. All of them should have the potential to resonate with both local and national audiences. We recognize these may shift over the two-year program: The point is to get to know your reporter, their interests and how they approach their work. But we would like to know at least one story that seems like a solid starting point for the partnership.
ProPublica editors are available to answer questions or to give you feedback on your application before you submit it. Please reach us at [email protected].
Please submit your proposal by Nov. 1, 2023, at 9 a.m. Eastern time. Entries will be judged principally by ProPublica editors. Selected proposals will be announced by early December.