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ProPublica’s 50 State Initiative Launches With Five New Partners and a Call for Proposals

ProPublica announced the addition of five new partner newsrooms and local journalists to its Local Reporting Network, the first group selected as part of ProPublica’s 50 State Initiative. The selected journalists are Dave Altimari with the Connecticut Mirror, Sawyer Loftus with the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, Spencer Norris with New York Focus, Jacob Orledge with the North Dakota Monitor and Emily Schwing for KYUK, a public radio station in Alaska. The projects will begin on July 1.

In addition, ProPublica posted a new call for proposals to select another five partners in our 50 State Initiative that will begin work on Oct. 1. The deadline to apply is July 22 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. As part of the initiative, ProPublica has committed to taking one project from each state by 2029. All newsrooms are eligible to apply except those in Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, New York and North Dakota, which were selected this time around. Find out more on how to apply!

“It is exciting to work with journalists from our first five states and to think about reaching so many more,” ProPublica Assistant Managing Editor Sarah Blustain said. “The 50 State Initiative has become an incredible opportunity for us to develop dialogue with reporters and editors throughout the country.”

Dave Altimari, Connecticut Mirror

Altimari is an investigative reporter at the Connecticut Mirror and recently was part of a team that won the first-ever National Press Foundation AARP Award for Excellence in Journalism on Aging for the four-part series “Connecticut’s Elder Care Reckoning.” He focuses on government accountability, including financial oversight, abuse of power and corruption. He previously worked at the Hartford Courant, where he won a George Polk Award for coverage of the arrest and impeachment of Gov. John Rowland and the Scripps Howard public service award. The Connecticut Mirror participated in the Local Reporting Network in 2019 to cover the state’s “separate and unequal housing.”

Sawyer Loftus, Bangor Daily News

Loftus is a reporter on the Bangor Daily News’ Maine Focus team, which specializes in enterprise and investigative journalism in the state. His stories have resulted in the arrest of the same property manager two times; exposed the unethical dealings of a county official that led to the dissolution of a lobbying contract; and revealed for the first time the questionable actions of a police officer who shot a suicidal man who did not have a gun. Loftus joined the Bangor Daily News in 2021 after graduating from the University of Vermont, where he oversaw more than 100 newspaper staff members as editor in chief of The Cynic. He was named Maine’s top young journalist by the Maine Press Association in 2022.

Spencer Norris, New York Focus

Norris is an investigative reporter at New York Focus covering homelessness. At Focus, he has exposed upstate opioid treatment deserts and deficiencies in treatment in the state’s jails and prisons. Norris previously worked with the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s investigations team, where their reporting spurred reforms cracking down on sex trafficking and providing new protections for survivors. He was raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and says what he observed of poverty and addiction there has shaped his reporting today.

Jacob Orledge, North Dakota Monitor

Orledge is a reporter for the North Dakota Monitor, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to watchdog reporting on state government that is part of the States Newsroom network. He previously reported on the Bakken oil field and rural communities for the Tioga Tribune. His reporting has won several state and national awards, including recognition by the North Dakota Newspaper Association for investigations of teacher misconduct and COVID-19 misinformation spread by a local radio program. Orledge was named the National Newspaper Association’s Rookie Reporter of the Year in 2019 and was a 2020-21 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

Emily Schwing, KYUK

Schwing has covered lands and wildlife management, natural disasters, local government and Indigenous affairs extensively for public radio stations in Alaska and beyond since 2006. Her 2018 investigation with Reveal into clergy sexual abuse of Indigenous children in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest garnered several awards. More recently, her reporting helped to change federal policy around disaster assistance after she dug into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to one of the most dramatic natural disasters to hit Alaska in the last five decades. Schwing has worked all over the northernmost state from the Chukchi Sea coast to the Wrangell Narrows and from the Canadian border to the far reaches of the Aleutian Chain. Her work has been published by NPR, The Washington Post and High Country News, and she was part of The New York Times’ 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning COVID-19 tracking team.

The 50 State Initiative expands the scope of ProPublica’s work at the local and regional level, which includes a growing team of journalists reporting from communities across the country and groundbreaking partnerships with local news organizations through the LRN program.

The initiative broadens our support for local journalism, which now includes the LRN alongside dedicated reporting hubs in the Midwest, South, Southwest and Northwest, as well as an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune. ProPublica has nearly 40 journalists based around the country contributing to regional and local accountability reporting, ensuring people can benefit from world-class journalism that can drive measurable change in their communities.

The LRN began in January 2018 in an effort to help remedy the lack of investigative reporting at the local level. It has since worked with more than 70 news organizations across the country.

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