ProPublica announced Tuesday that it continues to expand its Local Reporting Network as part of an ongoing focus on sustaining local accountability journalism. Made possible by a new grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the latest effort will provide support for five local newsrooms in New Orleans, Mississippi and New Mexico in each of the next two years.
Applications for the new iteration of the Local Reporting Network are due by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 1. National news organizations are not eligible to apply; local newsrooms in these three areas, including affiliates of national chains, are welcome to submit applications. The local reporters will begin their work on Jan. 3, 2022.
The ProPublica Local Reporting Network, which helps local newsrooms create vital investigative journalism that otherwise would not be done, began its work in 2018. Fifty-five newsrooms have been a part of the network since then, with 15 currently participating. Through the initiative, ProPublica pays the salary (up to $75,000), plus an allowance for benefits, for reporters at partner news organizations to work full time on significant investigative projects. Local reporters work from and report to their home newsrooms while receiving extensive support for and guidance on their work from ProPublica, which includes collaborating with a senior editor and gaining access to the nonprofit newsroom’s expertise in data, research, engagement, visuals, video and design.
“We couldn’t be more excited about working with news organizations in New Orleans, Mississippi and New Mexico to tell stories that will hold the powerful to account and help expose inequities,” said Charles Ornstein, managing editor, local, at ProPublica. “We have previously worked with news organizations in each of these areas and we know there are more important stories to be told.”
In 2018, ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network partnered with the Santa Fe New Mexican to investigate worker safety at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and in 2020 ProPublica worked with New Mexico In Depth to report on the deaths of extremely preterm babies at Albuquerque’s Lovelace Women’s Hospital, which markets itself as a state-of-the-art newborn facility. ProPublica partnered with the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting in 2019 to report on deadly conditions at the state’s prisons. And in New Orleans, the Local Reporting Network partnered with the Times Picayune and The Advocate to report on toxic emissions in Cancer Alley, and with WWNO and WRKF to report on complaints about abuses and a lack of accountability within the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Projects from the ProPublica Local Reporting Network have spurred real-world change. An investigation with MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, which focused on a Memphis hospital that sued thousands of patients, led the hospital to backtrack and eliminate patients’ debts. Our partnership with the Miami Herald looked at the deeply troubled Florida program intended to provide services and a financial cushion for the families of children born with devastating brain injuries. The series found that the program protected doctors at the expense of suffering families, and that it had amassed $1.5 billion in assets while families waited for help. The reporting pushed the state legislature to quickly enact long-needed reforms. And our collaboration with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser exposed the various ways in which coastal homeowners have used loopholes to circumvent Hawaii’s environmental laws at the expense of the state’s beaches, prompting legislative reform.
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.
More information on the ProPublica Local Reporting Network and application process can be found here.