ProPublica named 14 newsrooms and local reporters on Wednesday who will participate in the second year of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, a program aimed at supporting investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations. Seven of the projects will focus on state government, while the rest will cover a broad range of subjects.
Through the program, participating reporters collaborate with ProPublica senior editors Charles Ornstein and Marilyn W. Thompson as they embark on investigative journalism within their communities. Two of the projects, based in Illinois, also will work with the staff of ProPublica Illinois. ProPublica reimburses one year’s salary and benefits for each of the participating reporters and also supports projects with its expertise in data, research and engagement elements of the work.
The ProPublica Local Reporting Network kicked off in January 2018 with projects at seven news organizations across the country. In August, ProPublica announced the expansion of the Local Reporting Network, with a focus on investigative journalism on state governments or state politics. This expansion is an effort to help stanch the decline in statehouse and state government coverage nationwide, as fewer outlets have the resources to hold accountable those in powerful state offices, from executive and legislative branches to secretaries of state to attorneys general.
The newsrooms selected for the 2019 ProPublica Local Reporting Network were chosen from a pool of more than 215 applications from 43 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Topics will include racial segregation, correctional facilities, emergency response, environmental regulation, profiteering and higher education.
The selected newsrooms and reporters for the general subject Local Reporting Network are:
Anchorage Daily News | adn.com (Anchorage, Alaska) — Kyle Hopkins
Illinois Newsroom (Urbana, Illinois) — Rachel Otwell
Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting (Jackson, Mississippi) — Jerry Mitchell
MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (Memphis, Tennessee) — Wendi C. Thomas
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) — Joan Meiners
The Public’s Radio (Providence, Rhode Island) — Lynn Arditi
Reckon by AL.com | The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama) — Connor Sheets
The state government-based projects will come from:
The Charleston Gazette-Mail (Charleston, West Virginia) — Ken Ward Jr.
Connecticut Mirror (Hartford, Connecticut) — Jacqueline Rabe Thomas
The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois) — David Bernstein
Louisville Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) — Alfred Miller
The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) — Joseph Cranney
The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California) — Jason Pohl
WNYC (New York) — Nancy Solomon
“While the past year has seen yet more cutbacks at local news organizations, the ProPublica Local Reporting Network has been a bright spot nationally,” Ornstein said. “We couldn’t be happier with the accountability journalism produced by our inaugural class and are excited to pursue another year of investigative projects with moral force.”
Projects from 2018’s ProPublica Local Reporting Network have exposed lapses in worker safety at nuclear facilities; failures in public housing; conflicts of interest that have allowed Louisiana legislators to benefit themselves, their relatives and their clients; how West Virginia residents have paid a price as the natural gas industry gains power; and the devastating toll of post-traumatic stress disorder on first responders. Important change has already resulted from a number of projects. An investigation from the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, which uncovered shocking misconduct by Elkhart County police, prompted the police chief to resign and the Elkhart mayor to announce an independent review of the city’s Police Department. When the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon, discovered that many criminally insane people freed by the state over the past 10 years have been charged with new crimes, the state’s attorney general and key members of the Oregon legislature called for changes in state law around “guilty except for insanity” charges.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 75 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Its reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received four Pulitzer Prizes, three Peabody Awards, two Emmy Awards and five George Polk Awards, among others.