ProPublica Illinois, the first regional publishing operation of the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica, launched today with a look inside a gun trafficking case in Chicago. The site will focus on investigative journalism that exposes wrongdoing across Illinois and spurs positive change.
With a staff of 12 now in place, ProPublica Illinois seeks to help address the precarious position of accountability journalism across the country, with decreasing numbers of newspaper editors and reporters.
“While Illinois has a wealth of subjects for investigative journalism, there are always more stories to uncover than there are reporters to dig into them,” said Louise Kiernan, ProPublica Illinois editor-in-chief. “Our goal is to bring the unique strengths of ProPublica — such as our data-driven approach and our ability to stick with subjects as long as it takes — to report stories that would not otherwise be told.”
Just as ProPublica has done nationally, the Illinois newsroom is sharing its work and resources with other media organizations in the state. Today’s story, “How Chicago Gets Its Guns,” is co-published with the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ Chicago. In the piece, reporter Mick Dumke examines the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ tactic of setting up illegal firearms deals by using paid informants to lure low-level offenders, illustrating this practice through a deep dive into one troubling case.
ProPublica Illinois has also initiated partnerships to help build a broader community of investigative journalists. With City Bureau, a small journalism nonprofit on Chicago’s South Side, reporters are developing an open-source database of every public meeting in Chicago. In collaboration with Illinois Humanities, ProPublica is offering a $15,000 grant for a project focused on reaching underserved downstate audiences. Several reporting partnerships are underway with a number of media organizations in Chicago and other cities.
Nearly 10 years after the founding of ProPublica, with a record of substantial impact from its journalism, ProPublica Illinois will leverage this same model to make a meaningful difference across the state.