The nonprofit newsroom ProPublica announced that it will launch a new Illinois unit in 2017, publishing investigative journalism on key issues in Chicago and across the state. A search for an experienced, Chicago-based editor to lead ProPublica Illinois is underway and will conclude shortly.
With this state-based expansion, ProPublica seeks to further address the business crisis of the press. The collapse of regional and local newspapers, and the drastic cutback of reporting staffs, has left accountability journalism at the state and local levels shrinking and underfunded, weakening democratic governance at a critical moment.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica – which has exposed abuses of power and betrayals of public trust, spurring reforms nationally and in communities around the country since it began publishing in 2008 – is in a strong position to help fill this gap. ProPublica’s state initiative, which it is hoped will eventually expand to other localities, is made possible in part by seed funding from the Ford Foundation. ProPublica Illinois will begin hiring a staff of about 10 journalists after an editor has been selected. A local fundraising effort has begun and will accelerate in 2017.
“Illinois has a wealth of subjects for searching investigative journalism, and we see enormous potential for ProPublica Illinois to have a real impact,” said ProPublica editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg. “Our key priority now is building a team with strong local ties and established reputations within the community to lead this exciting expansion. We look forward also to working with local publishing partners to bring Illinois readers more high-quality accountability reporting.”
“In the nine years since its founding, ProPublica has established itself as a highly effective nonprofit newsroom, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur change,” said Richard Tofel, ProPublica’s president. “We look forward to leveraging our innovative model in Illinois to make a sustained, meaningful difference across the state.”