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ProPublica Selects 13 Investigative Projects, New Editor for Third Year of Local Reporting Network

Seven of the projects will focus on state government, while the rest will cover a broad range of subjects, bringing the network to 20 total reporters. T. Christian Miller will also become a senior editor.

ProPublica has announced 13 local reporters and their newsrooms who will participate in the third year of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, which supports accountability journalism at local news organizations. Seven of the projects will focus on state government, while the rest will cover a broad range of subjects.

Another seven projects are already underway, bringing the total number of reporters in the network, as of Jan. 1, 2020, to 20.

The selected newsrooms and reporters for the general subject Local Reporting Network are:

  • Anchorage Daily News | (Anchorage, Alaska) — Kyle Hopkins
  • Bay City News Foundation (Oakland, California) — Scott Morris
  • Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Honolulu) — Sophie Cocke
  • MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (Memphis, Tennessee) — Wendi C. Thomas
  • New Mexico In Depth (Albuquerque, New Mexico) — Bryant Furlow
  • Pine Tree Watch (Hallowell, Maine) — Samantha Hogan

The Anchorage Daily News and MLK50 were partners in 2019.

The state government-based projects will come from:

  • Asbury Park Press (Neptune, New Jersey) — Andrew Ford
  • Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) — Amy Silverman
  • The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California) — Janet Wilson
  • Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Honolulu) — Rob Perez
  • The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun (North Carolina) — Carli Brosseau
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia) — Patrick Wilson
  • WBEZ (Chicago) — Shannon Heffernan

The state-focused reporting partnerships are made possible by a grant from Emerson Collective.

Participating reporters collaborate with ProPublica senior editors as they embark on investigative journalism within their communities. ProPublica reimburses one year’s salary and benefits for each of the participating reporters and also supports projects with its expertise in data, research, audience and engagement elements of the work.

Topics will include health care, courts, pollution, criminal justice, political influence and regulatory oversight.

The ProPublica Local Reporting Network kicked off in January 2018.

“It’s heartening to see so many news organizations that want to dig into serious issues in their local communities,” ProPublica Deputy Managing Editor Charles Ornstein said. “We’re excited to give them the time, resources and support to do just that. At a time of cutbacks in our industry, we need more accountability reporting, not less.”

ProPublica also announced that senior reporter T. Christian Miller will become a senior editor, overseeing a group of local projects. Miller shared the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting with Ken Armstrong, then of The Marshall Project (and now a ProPublica senior reporter), for coverage of sexual assault, including “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.”

The impact of the Local Reporting Network has been extraordinary in its first two years.

In Indiana last year, the South Bend Tribune, working with Armstrong, reported on how police officers in Elkhart beat a handcuffed man and about how the police chief promoted officers despite records of discipline. As a result of those articles, the police chief was forced to resign, an independent investigation was launched and the officers involved in the beating were criminally charged. The mayor of Elkhart also abandoned his reelection effort. An independent investigation recently validated the reporting and recommended changes.

This year, MLK50, a nonprofit news organization in Memphis, reported on how the area’s largest hospital system sued and garnished the wages of thousands of poor patients, including its own employees, for unpaid medical debts. The hospital subsequently said it would raise the minimum wage it pays employees, dramatically expand its financial assistance policy for hospital care and stop suing its own employees for unpaid medical debts.

The Anchorage Daily News, in a first-of-its-kind investigation, found that one in three communities in Alaska has no local law enforcement: no state troopers to stop an active shooter, no village police officers to break up family fights, not even untrained city or tribal cops to patrol the streets. Following that coverage, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr visited Alaska and later declared a state of emergency, releasing millions in federal funds to devote to the problem.

About ProPublica

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 100 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received five Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards, seven George Polk Awards and five Online News Association Awards for general excellence.

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