ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network is seeking six local accountability projects to fund and partner on from September 2021 through August 2022.
ProPublica will pay the salary, 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 communities. Projects can shine light on problems involving local governments, sheriffs, jails, companies or nonprofits, or on regional/state issues.
Reporters will collaborate with a ProPublica senior editor, and they can receive assistance with data analysis, research, design, audience development and engagement.
Applications for these new slots are due July 5. Here are the details for those interested in applying. We will also host a webinar on June 15 at 3 p.m. EDT to answer questions about the application process. Sign up now.
The new group of reporters will begin work on Sept. 1.
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 the communities where it has partnered with newsrooms.
- The Anchorage Daily News, in a first-of-its-kind investigation, found that one in three communities in Alaska has 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, 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 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 create 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 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. The work will be published or broadcast by your newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.
All local news organizations are eligible to apply. 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 more. Please tell us why this coverage will be crucial to your community, any similar coverage that has been done before it, why this project has particular urgency now and 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 September 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. EDT on July 5. 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 June 21, and someone will get back to you within a few days. Entries will be judged principally by ProPublica editors. Winning proposals will be announced in mid-summer to enable work to begin on Sept. 1.