ProPublica announced today that Sarah Blustain and Talia Buford will be joining the masthead as assistant managing editors, effective immediately. Both Blustain and Buford have already played critical leadership roles in some of ProPublica’s most ambitious initiatives. This promotion is not only a recognition of their contributions but also an expansion of the roles they will play in the organization’s efforts to broaden our coverage and deepen our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Sarah Blustain has directed our Local Reporting Network with distinction since early 2021. She has led the selection of partners, overseen the project plans, organized training sessions, worked to increase diversity within the LRN, and created an office hours program to help newsrooms develop promising projects.
The projects Blustain worked on at ProPublica include a detailed account of the juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, published with Nashville Public Radio’s WPLN News; an investigation into the disappearance of salmon in the Pacific Northwest with Oregon Public Broadcasting; and a series looking into culture of abuse and cover-ups at the Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois with Lee Enterprises Midwest and Capitol News Illinois, which won the RFK Domestic Print Award this year.
She joined ProPublica from Type Investigations, where for seven years she spearheaded longform investigative projects as deputy editor and executive editor. At Type, Blustain oversaw award-winning projects that resulted in congressional hearings and resignations, legislative changes and canceled public contracts. Central themes of her editorial work have included corporate accountability, environmental degradation, conflict zone reporting, reproductive rights and women’s issues more broadly. Before that, she served as senior editor for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and The New Republic, and as deputy editor of The American Prospect. She received a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
As ProPublica’s first-ever talent development director, Talia Buford has played key roles in the transformation of our recruitment and retention efforts. She spearheaded the effort to find and implement a new data-management system that will allow us to better evaluate our hiring practices at a lower cost, and she runs our Emerging Reporters Program for college students seeking to pursue careers in reporting. Most recently, she played a key role in designing and launching ProPublica’s Investigative Editor Training Program.
Before taking on her talent development role, Buford was a reporter, covering the lax enforcement of environmental policies from Flint, Michigan, to Alaska to Salem County, New Jersey. In the early days of the pandemic, she co-wrote stories that were among the first to call attention to the staggering toll that COVID-19 was taking on African Americans and that were part of a ProPublica package that was named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Buford came to ProPublica from The Center for Public Integrity, where her work focused on wage theft and the Environmental Protection Agency’s lackluster enforcement of federal civil rights provisions. She also covered energy for POLITICO Pro, and she started her career covering municipal and legal affairs at The Providence Journal in Rhode Island. She earned a master’s degree in law from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Hampton University.
“I’m delighted to welcome Talia and Sarah to ProPublica’s senior ranks,” said Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg. “Both have distinguished themselves in recent years as newsroom leaders, Talia has made it possible for us to attract and retain the best talent in the business and Sarah has done an enormous amount to realize the full potential of our Local Reporting Network partnerships.”