ProPublica announced on Wednesday the hiring of three editors for its local initiatives. Sarah Blustain is joining as deputy editor, local; Mara Shalhoup will become South editor; and Michael Squires will become Southwest editor.
"These extraordinary editors are ideal choices to help lead ProPublica’s efforts to support local accountability journalism,” said Charles Ornstein, ProPublica’s managing editor, local. “With their passion and experience, and their track records for landing revelatory stories about abuses of power, they are just the team we need as we dramatically scale up our commitment to local reporting.”
Sarah Blustain comes to ProPublica from Type Investigations (formerly the Investigative Fund), where for the past seven years she has spearheaded longform investigative projects for the nonprofit newsroom. In the role as deputy editor, local, she will help oversee ProPublica’s growing local journalism initiatives, including its Local Reporting Network, its joint initiative with The Texas Tribune, the addition of offices in the South and the Southwest and the expansion of its presence in the Midwest.
At Type Investigations, Blustain oversaw award-winning projects that resulted in congressional hearings and resignations, legislative changes and canceled public contracts. Central themes of her editorial work have included corporate accountability, environmental degradation, conflict zone reporting, reproductive rights and women’s issues more broadly. As deputy and then executive editor, she also helped establish newsroom protocols; negotiated complex print, radio and video partnerships; and mentored younger colleagues. Blustain previously served as senior editor for Newsweek/Daily Beast and The New Republic, deputy editor of The American Prospect and a reporter and editor for Lilith magazine, where she spent a year reporting on rabbinic sexual abuse. Her reporting and writing has also appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, Democracy Journal and Salon.
Mara Shalhoup is currently deputy editor of Atlanta magazine, where she has guided investigations that explored the Atlanta Police Department’s flawed disciplinary practices and revealed how state epidemiologists were sidelined from the creation and management of Georgia’s maligned COVID-19 dashboard. As ProPublica’s South editor, she will be based in Atlanta and oversee six reporters.
Prior to Atlanta magazine, Shalhoup served as editor in chief of LA Weekly, Chicago Reader and the Atlanta alt-weekly Creative Loafing. Her earlier work as a writer at Creative Loafing, including the examination of the mass displacement of families from public housing and the saga of a teenage sex worker who murdered three men, earned her two Livingston Award nominations, an SPJ Green Eyeshade Award for investigative reporting, a Clarion Award for feature writing and recognition from the Atlanta Press Club as Journalist of the Year. She is the author of “BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family,” which reveals how one of the largest cocaine enterprises in U.S. history helped fuel the rise of some of Atlanta’s biggest hip-hop acts.
Michael Squires joins ProPublica from The Arizona Republic, where he is the investigative editor. While there he conceived of and ran a two-year investigation of special interests’ use of fill-in-the-blank legislation to spread their agendas. It found that at least 10,000 bills in statehouses nationwide had been copied from draft language written by special interests, representing the nation’s largest unreported influence campaign. The project, a collaboration among the Republic, USA Today and the Center for Public Integrity, won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, among other awards. As ProPublica’s Southwest editor, he will be based in Phoenix and oversee five reporters.
Squires also helped shape key elements of the Republic and USA Today’s 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning project “The Wall,” including its examination of human smuggling and the federal government’s failure to account for all migrant deaths on the southwest border. He previously spent 10 years working in Las Vegas as a reporter, columnist and editor leading teams covering state and federal policy and politics. While a deputy managing editor at the Las Vegas Sun, he oversaw that newsroom’s investigation of patient harm in Nevada hospitals, which was a Pulitzer finalist and won the Goldsmith Prize.
In addition to the regional reporting hubs in the South, Southwest and Midwest, ProPublica’s local initiatives include an investigative reporting initiative with the Tribune that co-publishes journalism for and about Texas; the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, which provides one-year grants and editorial support, allowing local reporters to tackle big investigative stories in their communities; and the Distinguished Fellows program, which enables local reporters to pursue a broad range of accountability stories through a three-year grant and editorial support as they produce important investigative projects from their home newsrooms.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 100 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Its reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received six Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards and eight George Polk Awards, among other honors.