Applications are now open for five spots in ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. We’re seeking to work with local journalists in Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans who are interested in investigating wrongdoing and abuses of power in their communities.
Our new partners will begin work on Jan. 2, 2023, and will continue for one year. Journalists from local and regional publications covering those three locations are eligible to apply.
ProPublica will pay each full-time reporter’s salary (up to $75,000), plus an allowance for benefits. Local reporters will 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. Since then, we have worked with nearly 60 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.
Reporting by the Local Reporting Network and other local partners has had significant impact.
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 “Birth Rights” 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 before she ultimately resigned.
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 election.
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. We are looking for some specific qualities in a proposal: what makes this story unique to your community (Why here?); how your project is different from prior coverage; how it points the finger not only at harm but at wrongdoing committed by a person, policy, law or entity; why this project has particular urgency now; and how your newsroom plans to execute the work.
- The reporter whom you ideally envision spearheading the work and the market salary you would need to pay them from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023. 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.
- Have an idea? You can find more details on how to apply, what we’re looking for and how the program works on our website. Proposals need to be submitted using this form.
- Want feedback on an idea you’re developing? You can send a written draft of your proposals to [email protected] no later than Oct. 25 and we will get back to you with written feedback within a few days.
- Anything else you’d like to ask? Feel free to email us at [email protected].
Please submit your proposal by Nov. 8, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. Entries will be judged principally by ProPublica editors. Selected proposals will be announced by early December.