In an effort to support investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations, ProPublica today announced the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. The yearlong initiative will pay salary, plus an allowance for benefits, for reporters at up to six partner news organizations in cities with populations below 1 million.
Over the past several years, accountability journalism has been shrinking and underfunded at the local and regional levels. As newspapers grapple with budget constraints and drastically cut their reporting staff, attention wanes on areas of possible corruption.
The ProPublica Local Reporting Network aims to address this problem by giving local reporters the opportunity to tackle big investigative stories that are crucial to their communities. The reporters will still work in and report to their home newsrooms, but they will receive extensive support and guidance from ProPublica throughout 2018. In addition to news organizations receiving the one-year grant, reporters will collaborate with a ProPublica senior editor, and ProPublica’s expertise with data, research and engagement will be made available for the work.
“The economic pressures facing local and regional newsrooms across the country are challenges not just for journalism, but also for our democracy,” said ProPublica President Richard Tofel. “Our local reporting initiative has the same mission as ProPublica overall: to spur change through stories with moral force.”
Each investigation from the ProPublica Local Reporting Network will be published or broadcast by both the reporter’s home newsroom and ProPublica. In a similar collaboration with the New York Daily News in 2016, one of the News’s reporters, Sarah Ryley, worked on a project about the NYPD’s abuse of nuisance abatement laws, which had police kicking people out of their homes without due process. ProPublica helped to develop the work, edit it and dig deeper into the data. The collaborative series led to sweeping legislative reforms, and ultimately won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for public service.
Also this year ProPublica announced ProPublica Illinois, a Chicago-headquartered newsroom that will produce investigative journalism to expose wrongdoing across the state of Illinois. It is expected one of the members of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network will be from Illinois.
Eligible newsrooms are invited to apply for the ProPublica Local Reporting Network by Nov. 3. Winning entries will be announced in December, to enable work to begin on Jan. 2. More information on the project and application process can be found in this post.