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ProPublica Builds Washington News Staff With Three Journalists

ProPublica announced Friday three additions to its expanding reporting team on the federal government. J. David McSwane and Yeganeh Torbati are joining ProPublica’s Washington office as reporters, and Moiz Syed will work from New York as a news applications developer. Other hires for the D.C. office will be coming.

“We could not be more thrilled with this lineup of journalists,” Marilyn Thompson, senior editor for Washington coverage, said. “With their track records of aggressively digging into the work of government and landing revelatory stories, we’re off to a great start as we expand our reporting on crucial policy decisions and their impact on people’s lives.”

J. David McSwane has been an investigative reporter at the Dallas Morning News since 2015, where he led investigations from the Texas Capitol. His reporting on the state’s outsourced Medicaid system, which benefited companies that systematically deny care to sick children and disabled adults, spurred multiple legislative reforms. Another investigation, exposing that state caseworkers were not checking on tens of thousands of abused children, prompted lawmakers to invest millions to hire and retain more caseworkers to examine reports of abuse and neglect. McSwane previously covered state government for the Austin American-Statesman and served as a reporter and deputy projects editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In addition to winning this year’s Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize, he has been honored with the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting, a Scripps Howard Award and a Peabody Award.

Yeganeh Torbati comes to ProPublica from Reuters, which she first joined in 2011, most recently covering immigration. Torbati was the first to reveal in 2018 the Trump administration’s detailed plans to penalize foreigners who use public benefits by making it harder for them to get green cards, and her narrative feature about a library on the U.S.-Canada border that played host to reunions of families separated by the travel ban was adapted for a segment on “This American Life.” In her previous role as a national security reporter for Reuters, she and colleagues exclusively obtained State Department cables in March 2017 detailing the Trump administration’s implementation of “extreme vetting,” and as an Iran reporter she co-led the news organization’s coverage during the country’s domestic political crisis, nuclear negotiations and international sanctions. Among other honors, Torbati’s work has won a National Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ Best in Business Award.

Moiz Syed is a data journalist, designer and developer who, before joining ProPublica, worked at The Intercept. His interactive map in a co-reported story on how toxic firefighting foam is contaminating U.S. drinking water was later used by the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of a team that obtained reports from the Department of Homeland Security, including 1,224 sexual assault complaints from people under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, he helped reveal a staggering pattern of abuse against women held at immigration detention centers, and his work tracking international terrorism prosecutions since the 9/11 attacks revealed that most of those prosecuted never committed a violent act. He also previously worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, leading projects to improve Wikipedia’s search and mobile user experience.

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