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ProPublica Adds Four Reporters to Its Washington News Staff

ProPublica announced on Tuesday that reporters Akilah Johnson, Lizzie Presser, Mike Spies and Maryam Jameel will be joining its Washington, D.C., team this summer.

Johnson and Presser will focus on narrative policy stories on health care while Spies will be investigating federal agencies. Jameel, the Washington newsroom’s engagement reporter, will work to mobilize communities around civic issues and use their input to hold officials to account.

Akilah Johnson just completed a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship, focusing on the ways news organizations can improve access and credibility in underserved communities. She comes to ProPublica after eight years with The Boston Globe, most recently as a reporter covering politics and immigration. Her work on the Globe’s Spotlight Team investigation, “Boston. Racism. Image. Reality,” exploring the city’s fraught history of race relations was named a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting. Johnson was also part of the Globe’s reporting team covering the Boston Marathon bombing, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news. Previously, she was an education reporter for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as a Metpro fellow and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Lizzie Presser is currently a contributing reporter for ProPublica. She was previously a contributing writer for The California Sunday Magazine, where her work spanned a wide range of social justice and labor issues, including how barriers to high-quality, clinical abortions have led many women to choose home abortions instead; the human toll of deportation on the U.S.-born children who are left behind; and the brutal exploitation of cruise ship workers. Presser has also written for The Guardian, This American Life, The Independent and elsewhere. She has twice been recognized as a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Livingston Award.

Mike Spies is a senior reporter for The Trace, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the U.S. Over the past four years, he has produced deep, high-impact investigative projects focusing on the gun lobby, including his 2017 series, “The Gunfighters,” examining the unchecked influence of the NRA. Spies has been recognized as a finalist for the Livingston Award, and his work on the NRA won the 2019 New York Press Club Award for continuing coverage. Before The Trace, Spies was a senior reporter for Vocativ. His byline has appeared in The New Yorker, Politico Magazine and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

Maryam Jameel comes to ProPublica from The Center for Public Integrity, where she has reported on workers’ rights since 2014. Her most recent stories have focused on racial discrimination in U.S. workplaces and enforcement of the Civil Rights Act’s employment protections. Jameel’s previous reporting has dug into toxic workplace exposures, wage theft by federal contractors and other topics. She has also been a freelance contributor to NPR’s Latino USA and worked for Al Jazeera English, public radio station KQED and StoryCorps.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Akilah, Mike, Maryam and Lizzie to ProPublica’s D.C. reporting team as we double down on our Washington coverage,” senior editor Marilyn Thompson said. “They bring an outstanding record of innovative, compelling journalism that will be key in helping us break through the noise, especially in the run-up to 2020, as we dig into the federal government and the important accountability stories that need to be told.”

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