ProPublica has selected three new partner newsrooms and local journalists for its Local Reporting Network: B. “Toastie” Oaster with High Country News, Stephannie Stokes with WABE, and Paige Pfleger with WPLN. This group will begin their investigative projects on April 3. This group of projects is made possible by a grant from Knight Foundation.
High Country News — B. “Toastie” Oaster (Washington)
B. “Toastie” Oaster is a staff writer with High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk. Oaster has reported on tribal efforts to restore the West’s biggest waterfall and explored the psychological and mythic power of Indigenous place names. They also created and continue to produce the weekly video series “Halito From High Country News.” Oaster’s feature on Pacific lamprey is a finalist in this year’s American Society of Magazine Editors awards, and they are the recipient of awards from the Native American Journalists Association and SPJ Oregon. Oaster is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, reporting from Chinook lands in the Pacific Northwest.
WABE — Stephannie Stokes (Georgia)
Stephannie Stokes is a journalist covering housing and inequality at the Atlanta NPR affiliate, WABE. In her investigations, she has revealed how predatory investors strip wealth from Black homeowners in Atlanta’s fast-appreciating neighborhoods, and has shown, over the course of a year of reporting, the emotional and physical toll that the most deteriorated federally subsidized housing complex in the city has taken on its tenants. Her stories have changed local laws and policy and have aired nationally on NPR and “Reveal.” Her work has also received awards from the Atlanta Press Club, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
WPLN — Paige Pfleger (Tennessee)
Paige Pfleger covers criminal justice in Tennessee for WPLN News, Nashville Public Radio. Her work centers on how people are affected by policy — she followed one family’s journey through Tennessee’s struggling Department of Children’s Services, explored how a gun stolen from an unlocked car changed the lives of two teenagers, and uncovered the gaps in the legal system that one woman fell through while trying to protect herself from an abusive husband. Tennessee lawmakers have used those stories to push for change and reform. Her coverage of the deadly impacts of Tennessee’s gun dispossession laws earned a first-place award from the Public Media Journalists Association. Her stories have appeared nationally on NPR, in The Washington Post and on Marketplace.
ProPublica launched the Local Reporting Network at the beginning of 2018 to boost investigative journalism in local newsrooms. It has since worked with more than 70 news organizations. The network is part of ProPublica’s local initiative, which includes offices in the Midwest, South and Southwest, plus an investigative unit in partnership with The Texas Tribune.