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ProPublica Illinois Builds News Staff with Three Noted Journalists

ProPublica Illinois, the first regional publishing operation of the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica, today announced the first additions to its news staff. Jodi S. Cohen and Jason Grotto are both joining the Chicago-based newsroom as reporters, and David Eads is joining as a news applications developer.

“We’re off to a great start in building the ProPublica Illinois team with these stellar journalists,” said ProPublica Illinois editor-in-chief Louise Kiernan. “Their formidable skills in data-driven accountability journalism, strong community roots in Illinois, and track records of real-world impact make them exciting additions to our newsroom. We look forward to announcing more hires soon.”

Jodi S. Cohen has worked at the Chicago Tribune for 14 years, most recently as an investigative reporter and editor. She also served as the Tribune’s higher education reporter for 10 years. In partnership with her colleagues, she reported on a secret, preferential admissions system at the University of Illinois for well-connected applicants, which led to admissions reform and the resignations of the university president, chancellor and seven of the nine university trustees. A series on questionable spending and lax oversight at the College of DuPage, Illinois’ largest community college, prompted criminal investigations, new state laws, and the college being put on probation by its accrediting agency. Cohen previously worked at The Detroit News. Among other honors, she has been named the Illinois Journalist of the Year by Northern Illinois University’s Department of Communications, is a four-time winner of a National Headliner Award and the recipient of the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers, the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Award and a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award.

Jason Grotto has worked as an investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune since 2007. His series on the pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois, in collaboration with other reporters, sparked a federal criminal investigation and led the state legislature to make dramatic changes. He led a Gerald Loeb Award-winning series on Chicago Public Schools’ disastrous use of action-rate securities and exposed dubious emergency room practices by the University of Chicago Medical Center, leading to the resignation of the hospital’s CEO. Before joining the Tribune, Grotto was an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald. A 2015 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, other honors include receiving a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award and the Society of Environmental Journalists Award.

David Eads has been an editor and software developer for NPR Visuals since 2014, where he has worked on projects such as NPR’s live fact-checking tool and Elex, an open source tool that makes it easier to get election results. With broad experience in leadership and organizing, his work connects journalism, technology and social issues. Eads is the co-founder of the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit that guides citizens on the South Side of Chicago in producing investigative journalism that holds public institutions accountable, where he created and maintained “The View From the Ground,” an online publication that covered Chicago public housing from 2001 to 2007. He was also a co-founder of the Supreme Chi-Town Coding Crew, a workshop that taught developers data journalism and journalists fundamental web skills. Eads previously worked for the Chicago Tribune News Apps team.

ProPublica Illinois, when fully staffed later this year, will have about 10 news staffers. For open positions and job descriptions, click here.

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