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Louise Kiernan Named Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica Illinois

ProPublica announced today that Louise Kiernan has been selected to lead ProPublica Illinois, its first regional publishing operation, as the new unit’s editor-in-chief. Kiernan will build and manage a team of journalists for the Chicago-headquartered newsroom, directing its editorial vision and investigative stories on key issues in the city of Chicago and across the state of Illinois. She will start on April 4.

Kiernan comes to ProPublica Illinois from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she is an associate professor and leader of the school’s social justice and investigative reporting specialization. As co-director of Medill’s Social Justice News Nexus, she helps oversee graduate students and community journalists in their production of in-depth stories on social issues, which have been published on This American Life and in The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune and other outlets.

Prior to joining the Medill faculty in 2010, Kiernan worked at the Chicago Tribune for 18 years as a reporter and editor. During her 10-year stint as a special projects reporter, she investigated topics including ex-offenders, mental illness and child homicide, and was the lead writer on a series about the nation’s chaotic air travel system which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. She also worked as a Tribune urban affairs team editor and reporter, directing coverage of issues such as housing, immigration, welfare reform and juvenile justice. And as a senior enterprise editor, she managed a team of reporters producing enterprise stories and helped guide strategic efforts to develop new content to increase readership.

Kiernan also recently served as editor of the Nieman Storyboard, a narrative journalism website sponsored by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. She was a 2005 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, has served on the Nieman fellowship selection committee, chaired the Pulitzer Prize juries for investigative and explanatory reporting, and served on the jury for the Pulitzer in nonfiction. Other honors include winning the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for feature writing in 2007 and inclusion in two editions of "Best Newspaper Writing."

“With her experience in enterprising accountability journalism and news management, as well as her strong ties across the city of Chicago and state of Illinois, Louise is exactly the right person to lead ProPublica Illinois,” said Robin Fields, ProPublica managing editor. “We are thrilled to have her extraordinary talents as we launch our first state-based expansion.”

“I’ve long admired the work of ProPublica, and I'm delighted to join their team to help illuminate the complex issues facing Chicago and Illinois,” said Kiernan. "We’re eager to get started reporting great stories, giving people the information they need to understand their region and make decisions, using unassailable facts and compelling narratives to do so.”

Today ProPublica posted about 10 news job openings for ProPublica Illinois. For positions and job descriptions, click here.

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