ProPublica announced on Thursday the hiring of Steve Myers as an editor for its Local Reporting Network. Myers will help oversee five new projects as part of the local news initiative. He will start on Dec. 30.
The selected journalists in the Local Reporting Network’s newest round are Bryant Furlow of New Mexico In Depth, Caleb Bedillion of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Ed Williams of Searchlight New Mexico, Anita Lee of the Sun Herald and Richard A. Webster of The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.
Myers is currently an enterprise editor on the Nation team at USA Today, where he leads reporters focused on extremism, criminal justice inequities and quick-turn investigations. Prior to joining USA Today, Myers was editor of The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans, where he oversaw investigations into prosecutors’ use of fake subpoenas and an astroturfing scheme for a new power plant. Myers managed a dozen collaborations with local and national partners, including ProPublica on “Losing Ground,” an award-winning interactive project illustrating coastal land loss in Louisiana. Myers has served as managing editor of Poynter Online, taught journalism as a professional-in-residence at Texas Christian University, and reported at newspapers in Alabama, North Carolina and West Virginia. As a 2019 Nieman Fellow, he studied how nonprofit news sites could adopt community organizing techniques to build stronger ties with readers.
“Steve’s extensive experience working on investigative reporting projects and local newsroom collaborations make him a great addition to the newsroom,” said Sarah Blustain, deputy editor, local, for ProPublica. “We are thrilled to work with him and this talented group of journalists to hold the powerful to account and create impact.”
“I love the Local Reporting Network because it shows what local and national journalists can accomplish together,” said Myers. “I’m eager to get started so we can bring these important stories to light.”
The reporting partners will begin their projects on Jan. 3 and focus on topics that include children, law enforcement, government oversight and environmental issues.
The projects are supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
New Mexico in Depth (New Mexico) — Bryant Furlow
Bryant Furlow is an Albuquerque-based reporter with New Mexico In Depth and a regular contributor to The Lancet medical journal news desks. Bryant has investigated the off-label sedation of jail inmates with prescription drug cocktails, corruption at a rural New Mexico police department and a refinery company's history of safety violations leading up to a deadly, preventable explosion. Working with the Local Reporting Network in 2020, his award-winning reporting exposed racial profiling of Native Americans at a prominent women's hospital and disparities in newborn death rates at New Mexico’s largest maternity centers.
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Mississippi) — Caleb Bedillion
Caleb Bedillion is an investigative reporter and editor with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he has been based since 2016. His reporting is focused on criminal justice issues and government accountability and has been cited from the floor of the Mississippi Legislature during debate and featured on MSNBC. In 2019, he was named the top reporter in Mississippi by the Associated Press for his watchdog and public records reporting. He completed a master’s degree in religion and ethics from Yale University’s divinity school in 2015.
Searchlight New Mexico (New Mexico) — Ed Williams
Ed Williams is a staff writer for Searchlight New Mexico, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in Santa Fe. His investigations into human trafficking, education and abuses within New Mexico’s foster care system have resulted in numerous state and federal investigations. Williams’ reporting has earned multiple awards, including the 2019 Frank Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting and the 2020 Best of the West Award for investigative reporting. He was also part of the team that won the 2020 Sigma Delta Chi Award for COVID-19 reporting. Williams has been a reporter in the United States and Latin America, working for print, digital and radio outlets, including seven years with public radio. He was a 2016 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellow and earned a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.
Sun Herald (Mississippi) — Anita Lee
Anita Lee is a staff writer at the Sun Herald on the Mississippi Coast. She has won state, regional and national awards for in-depth and investigative reporting, and was a lead reporter on the Sun Herald’s Hurricane Katrina coverage, which earned the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Lee’s coverage has included judicial bribery, corruption in the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, white-collar crime and civil litigation and local government reporting. A journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she started her career at The Daily News (Jackson) in the state’s capitol and then worked at The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) before returning to her native Mississippi.
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate (New Orleans) — Richard A. Webster
Richard A. Webster is a New Orleans-based investigative journalist who will be working with The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate. As a member of the Local Reporting Network in 2020 in partnership with the public radio stations WWNO/WRKF, Webster reported on allegations of abuses and misconduct by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. His reporting helped spur the Sheriff’s Office to implement body cameras, exposed a deputy with a long history of violence who was caught on video attacking a Black woman, and led to calls by the ACLU of Louisiana for the federal government to begin a pattern and practice investigation focused on law enforcement agencies accused of systemic wrongdoing. Webster previously was a member of the Times-Picayune’s investigative team and also covered the criminal justice system and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Washington Post, ProPublica and The Guardian.
Local reporters will work from and report to their home newsrooms, while receiving extensive support and guidance for their work from ProPublica, including collaboration with a senior editor and access to the nonprofit newsroom’s expertise with data, research, engagement, video and design. The work will be published by the participating newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica.
ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms. Since then, it has worked with more than 50 newsrooms.
The Local Reporting Network is part of ProPublica’s growing list of local initiatives, which include units in the Midwest, South and Southwest, as well as an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune.