ProPublica has expanded its engagement team with the hiring of two new reporters — Byard Duncan and Asia Fields. In addition, Jessica Priest is joining as an engagement reporter for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune’s investigative unit, a first-of-its-kind collaboration focused on Texas. All three will use crowdsourcing and community outreach to engage diverse audiences for investigative projects.
“We are thrilled to add these extraordinarily talented journalists to our team,” ProPublica Crowdsourcing and Engagement Editor Ariana Tobin said. “Their proven ability to tell impactful, community-driven stories makes them a perfect fit for our newsroom.”
Byard Duncan joins ProPublica from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. There, he created and managed Reveal’s Reporting Networks, which provide more than 1,100 local journalists across the U.S. with resources and training to continue Reveal investigations in their communities. Duncan also led engagement reporting initiatives around Reveal’s major investigations and reported on threats to U.S. democracy. He was part of Reveal’s “Behind the Smiles” project team, which exposed the true toll of Amazon’s relentless drive for speed on its workers by using public injury records from the company’s warehouses and deep sourcing from current and former Amazon workers. The project was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2019. Duncan is the recipient of two Gerald Loeb Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a National Headliner Award, an Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and two first-place awards for feature storytelling from the Society of Professional Journalists and Best of the West. In addition to Reveal, Duncan’s work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The California Sunday Magazine and Columbia Journalism Review, among other outlets.
Asia Fields joins ProPublica from the investigative team at the The Seattle Times, where she helped lead coverage of the coronavirus’ devastating toll in long-term care facilities, including the site of the nation’s first-known outbreak. She and her colleagues exposed early missteps that allowed the virus to spread in facilities and worked with the families of residents to track outbreaks at a time when officials weren’t able to provide data. This work was selected as a finalist for the Scripps Howard Award and IRE Award for breaking news. For a series on Title IX, Fields connected with dozens of survivors who felt their universities failed them and, in some cases, put other students in danger. Her work has also exposed gaps in colleges' sexual misconduct policies and led to a law in Washington state requiring schools to share information about employee misconduct as part of the hiring process.
Jessica Priest joins the ProPublica and The Texas Tribune investigative unit from the Fort Worth Report. As one of its founding reporters, she exposed corruption by the head of a large public port, prompting a grand jury investigation. At the Victoria Advocate, her call-out driven series about gaps in mental health care in rural Texas won the Star Investigative Report of the Year award from the Texas Associated Press Managers. Later that year, she drove to every apartment complex in Victoria to map damage from Hurricane Harvey, giving visibility to renters all but forgotten in the recovery process. The story and map were part of a series that received a Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service journalism. Most recently, at USA Today and the Austin American-Statesman, Priest detailed a Midland prosecutor’s serious conflict of interest. After this reporting, Texas’ highest criminal court overturned a death row inmate’s conviction. The State Bar of Texas has also recognized Priest’s reporting for fostering public understanding of the legal system and highlighting needs for reform. Her work has also appeared in the Houston Chronicle, the Temple Daily Telegram and the Texas Observer.