ProPublica announced today that Marilyn Thompson will join its staff as a senior editor supervising the state government-focused group in ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. The initiative is designed to support accountability reporting at local and regional news organizations, specifically work focused on state government, and will pay for a reporter to do investigative journalism at each of seven selected news organizations.
Thompson comes to ProPublica from the Washington Post, where she has spent much of her professional career, serving as assistant managing editor of investigations, national editor, and, most recently, as a deputy national enterprise editor and Sunday editor. Her reporters at the Post have won numerous national honors. When she was an editor on its investigative team, projects by its reporters on police shootings, as well as Washington, D.C.’s troubled system of care for the mentally challenged, earned the Post two consecutive Pulitzer Prizes for public service.
Thompson’s notable work at the Post also includes her own 2003 exclusive revealing that Sen. Strom Thurmond, the former segregationist and candidate for president, had a secret African-American daughter.
Thompson also has an extensive background in local journalism. Early in her reporting career, she spent stints at The Columbia Record in South Carolina, the Philadelphia Daily News and the New York Daily News, breaking stories on corruption and government waste. In 2004, she became the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky, and soon infused the mid-sized newspaper with investigative work. During her tenure, the newspaper won praise for an investigative project on Sen. Mitch McConnell reported in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting, and for a project looking back on the newspaper’s coverage (or lack thereof) of the civil rights movement.
In addition, Thompson has worked as a reporter or editor at the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and Reuters. She is a former Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and was a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association.
“In addition to being a major force in investigative reporting, Marilyn is creative about all the different ways we can do journalism, from deep data-digging to narrative forms,” said ProPublica Managing Editor Robin Fields. “We look forward to adding her talents to our newsroom.”
“It’s an honor to join an effort to help smaller news organizations that have been hurt by staff cuts and budget reductions,” said Thompson. “ProPublica is doing what it can to bring investigative muscle back to these places.”
Eligible newsrooms are invited to apply for the ProPublica Local Reporting Network by Sept. 14. Winning entries will be announced in October, to enable work to begin on Jan. 2. More information on the project and application process can be found here.