ProPublica is filling five spots in our Local Reporting Network. We’re seeking local journalists in New Orleans, Mississippi and New Mexico who we can fund and partner with on local accountability projects from January 2022 through December 2022. This group of projects is made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
ProPublica will pay the salary (up to $75,000), plus a benefits allowance, for reporters at partner news organizations. Each reporter will spend one year tackling an investigative project that is important to their community.
ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms. The program has had significant impact in our partners’ communities.
- The Anchorage Daily News, in a first-of-its-kind investigation, found that 1 in 3 communities in Alaska had no local law enforcement: no state troopers to stop an active shooter, no village police officers to break up family fights, not even untrained city or tribal cops to patrol the streets. Following that coverage, U.S. Attorney General William Barr visited Alaska and later declared a state of emergency there, releasing millions of dollars in federal funds to address the problem. The Anchorage Daily News was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the series.
- 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 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.
If your organization is selected, the reporter will continue to work in your newsroom but will receive extensive guidance and support from ProPublica, which will include collaborating with a senior editor and gaining access to the nonprofit newsroom’s expertise in data, research, engagement, visuals, video and design. The work will be published or broadcast by your newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.
Local news organizations in New Orleans, Mississippi and New Mexico are eligible to apply, including affiliates of national chains. We are not looking to fund beat coverage, but instead to enable your organization to do ambitious accountability projects that would not otherwise be done.
Applications should be submitted by newsroom leaders for 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, radio, video or other formats. Please tell us why this coverage will be crucial to your community, describe any similar coverage that has been done before it, explain why this project has particular urgency now and share a plan for executing the work. Please also explain why your region and your newsroom are the right places to tell this particular story. (We tend to shy away from projects that could be told in multiple places.)
- The reporter whom you envision spearheading the work, along with the market salary you would need to pay this person for a year starting in January 2021. This could be someone already on staff or someone else — for example, a freelancer with whom you aspire to work. Please include a personal statement by the reporter explaining his or her interest, at least three clips and, of course, a resume.
Freelancers are also welcome to apply, but they must find a news organization willing to publish their work and submit a joint application. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 1. Please submit your proposal using this form. We have a detailed list of frequently asked questions available on our site. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, email us at [email protected]
ProPublica reporters and editors are available to give you feedback on your idea before you apply: You can send your proposals to [email protected] no later than Oct. 20 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 early December to enable work to begin on Jan 3.