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ProPublica Will Fund More Local News Investigations in 2020

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

ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network is seeking six additional local accountability projects to fund in 2020.

ProPublica will pay the salary, plus a benefits allowance, for reporters at partner news organizations who will each 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, nonprofits or regional 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 Oct. 30. Here are the details for those interested in applying. We will also host a webinar at 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to answer questions about the application process. Sign up now.

The new group of reporters will begin work on Jan. 2.

ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms

One of our partners this year, 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 said it would raise the minimum wage it pays employees, dramatically expand its financial assistance policy for hospital care and stop suing its own employees for unpaid medical debts.

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 P. Barr visited Alaska and later declared a state of emergency, releasing millions in federal funds to devote to the problem.

In Rhode Island, The Public’s Radio reported how 911 call takers were not trained to provide CPR instructions by phone and about people who died after those call takers failed to give proper guidance. The state legislature is poised to add money for training in the coming year’s budget.

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.

News organizations in cities with populations of fewer than 1 million people 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.

  • 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 Oct. 30. 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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