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ProPublica Wants Pitches for State Government Investigations. Apply for a Spot in Our Local Reporting Network.

ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network produces impactful accountability stories that wouldn’t be done otherwise. Now, we’re looking for seven partners to work with in 2020.

ProPublica has opened a new round of applications for its Local Reporting Network, with a focus on accountability projects involving state government or state politics.

ProPublica will pay the salary, plus a benefits allowance, for reporters at seven partner news organizations who will each spend one year tackling an investigative project in their states. 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 Sept. 27. Here are the details for those interested in applying. The new group of reporters will begin their work on Jan. 2. ProPublica will also be hosting office hours at a one-day “Collaboration Station” at the Online News Association conference in New Orleans, on Sept. 13, 2019. Interested reporters and editors can sign up for a first-come, first-served appointment with an LRN editor here, or drop by any time during the day to talk with our team.

ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms, and its first group of state accountability reporters this year has already produced a strong body of work. The projects have exposed a deadly crisis in California jails, a broadband boondoggle in Kentucky and an ethical quagmire for the governor of West Virginia (he owns more than 100 businesses, many regulated by the state).

Policymakers are paying attention. In New Jersey, for example, our partner WNYC reported on how a company provided a false answer on an application for tax incentives, leading the state to freeze the firm’s $260 million tax break. And last month, the governor there vetoed an extension of the tax program at the heart of our reporting.

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. While the reporter does not have to be based in your state capital, he or she will have to spend time there during the year.

National news organizations are not eligible to apply; all other newsrooms are. We are not looking to fund day-to-day coverage of state government or the legislature, 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 state, 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 state and your newsroom are the right places to tell this particular story.

  • The reporter whom you ideally envision spearheading the work and the market salary you would need to pay this person for 2020. 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 Sept. 27. 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 Local.Reporting@propublica.org.

ProPublica reporters and editors are available to give you feedback on your idea before you apply. You can send your proposals to Local.Reporting@propublica.org 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 late fall to enable work to begin on Jan. 2.

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