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Impact

Journalism in the Public Interest

Impact has been at the core of ProPublica’s mission since we launched 10 years ago, and it remains the principal yardstick for our success today. Our investigative journalism does more than expose wrongdoing and injustice; we intend for it to spark real-world change.

We’ve written a whole white paper on the topic, and examples of how our stories have produced such change — from the resignation of corrupt officials to the passage of new laws — are compiled in our annual reports. On this page, you’ll find our reporting on the impact of our work, as well as the stories of people whose lives have been affected by our work.

Featured Impact

Facebook Promises to Bar Advertisers From Targeting Ads by Race or Ethnicity. Again.

Settling an investigation by the state of Washington prompted by a ProPublica story, the social networking company said it would no longer allow advertisers to exclude users by any federally protected categories.

Influential Texas Commission Says Blood-Spatter Testimony in Joe Bryan’s Murder Case Was “Not Accurate or Scientifically Supported”

The findings of Texas Forensic Science Commission will make it harder to deny a new trial to Bryan, a high school principal convicted of murdering his wife. The case was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine.

U.S. Senate Committee Proposes $50 Million to Prevent Mothers Dying in Childbirth

After years of Congressional inaction, legislators in both parties want to back efforts by states and hospitals to reduce the U.S. maternal mortality rate, the highest in the developed world.

Pennsylvania State Police Adding Oversight to Troopers’ Interactions With ICE

Officers must now file a report when they call federal agencies. Meanwhile, Trooper Luke C. Macke continues to detain immigrants for ICE.

A Political Boss Goes Down

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, one of the last leaders of the old Democratic machine, loses the Democratic primary to a wealthy political newcomer.

Red Cross General Counsel David Meltzer Resigns Over Handling of Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations

The charity’s CEO, Gail McGovern, announced Meltzer’s resignation this morning following a ProPublica story last week.

Judge: Kushner Company Must Reveal Identities of Real Estate Partners

The ruling comes in a class-action lawsuit filed by tenants of Kushner-managed apartment complexes in the Baltimore area.

Baltimore Judge Tosses Alford Plea, Rebuking Prosecutor

Demetrius Smith has long maintained he pleaded guilty to a shooting he did not commit. Now, over the prosecutor's objections, his conviction has been set aside.

Nevada Pardons Wrongfully Convicted Man Featured in Our Story

The pardon clears Fred Steese’s name after state prosecutors had pushed him into an arcane plea deal even though a judge had declared he was innocent. “I’m not a felon anymore,” Steese said.

Impact Profiles

Lexey Swall for ProPublica

Demetrius Smith

Baltimore, MD

Demetrius Smith was wrongfully convicted of murder, but still had a felony conviction because of an unusual plea deal. ProPublica’s story spurred a new hearing for Smith that cleared his criminal record.

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Edmund D. Fountain, special to ProPublica

Rebecca Glover

New Orleans, LA

Reporter A.C. Thompson dug into an “unclassified” death after Hurricane Katrina. He found out the victim was shot by police and died in custody. The victim’s aunt, Rebecca Glover, is grateful for the attention the case received but worries about others who haven’t seen justice.

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Dylan Wilson for ProPublica

Tim Newman

Beaufort, SC

Tim Newman was an advocate for his fellow civilian contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping them get medical care. A ProPublica story drew national attention, and policy change, for their hidden plight.

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David Ryder for ProPublica

Allisa Song

Seattle, WA

Research scientist Allisa Song didn’t just get outraged when she read ProPublica’s story on medical waste. She organized a dream team of fellow scientists and engineers to invent a solution.

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Demetrius Freeman for ProPublica

Deborah Goldberg

New York, NY

ProPublica’s enterprising reporting on fracking gave an attorney the information she needed to address critical environmental issues. “To my mind, ProPublica’s series of articles was the most informative account we had of what was happening with fracking,” she said.

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Isaura Martinez

Chicago, IL

Isaura Martinez and hundreds of other temp workers shared their stories with ProPublica to shed light on a shadow system harming workers and burdening the economy. “Once the stories came out, it motivated me to continue denouncing these sorts of injustices,” she said.

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Kirsten Luce, special to ProPublica

María Eugenia Vela

Allende, Mexico

María Eugenia Vela’s husband was killed when a drug cartel swept through their small town in Mexico. For years, she never got answers until a ProPublica story revealed what happened.

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Sarah Glicksteen for ProPublica

Noemi Martinez

Jacksonville, FL

Noemi Martinez felt angry and powerless when she was unfairly ticketed and fined for a pedestrian violation. ProPublica and Florida Times-Union reporters gave her hope — and their story led to her receiving pro bono legal representation.

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Stories

Veterans Group Sues to Block VA Shadow Rulers

A new lawsuit challenges the legality of a secret Mar-a-Lago troika after ProPublica revealed its influence over the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Illinois Lawmakers Search for Solutions for Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals

Witnesses at legislative hearing criticize state child welfare agency, say some teens prefer jail to psychiatric facilities

Defense Inspector General to Investigate Military’s Toxic Open Burning

The inquiry will evaluate whether the polluting practice is legal, and whether contractors have proper oversight.

Trusted Health Sites Spread Myths About a Deadly Pregnancy Complication

From the Mayo Clinic to Harvard, sources don't always get the facts right about preeclampsia. Reached by ProPublica, some are making needed corrections.

Democrats Vow Investigation of VA’s Shadow Rulers After ProPublica Story

“This situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,” said the top Democrat on the House veterans committee.

New York City Launches Initiative to Eliminate Racial Disparities in Maternal Death

A Central Brooklyn hospital featured in ProPublica and NPR’s “Lost Mothers” series for its high hemorrhage rate will serve as a pilot for quality reforms.

A Day After Report, Violent White Supremacist Loses Job With Defense Contractor

The CEO of Northrop Grumman told employees he was saddened by ProPublica and Frontline’s report concerning Michael Miselis, an aerospace engineer who took part in the violence in Charlottesville last year.

New Jersey to Suspend Prominent Psychologist for Failing to Protect Patient Privacy

The state began investigating Barry Helfmann after a 2015 article by ProPublica and the New York Times about debt collection lawsuits against his patients that included details of their mental health diagnoses and treatments.

Federal Judge to Consider Independent Monitor for Illinois Child Welfare Agency

State officials have failed to deal with children stuck in psychiatric hospitals.

U.S. Marine to Be Imprisoned Over Involvement With Hate Groups

Vasillios Pistolis had bragged online about his affiliations and his role in the violence in Charlottesville last year. He is now likely to be forced from the Marine Corps. 

Illinois Lawmakers Demand Explanation on Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals

A call for state welfare officials to appear at a public hearing follows our ProPublica Illinois investigation.

St. Luke’s to Suspend Heart Transplants After Recent Deaths

The move comes two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported on pervasive problems in the historic heart program.

Federal Watchdog Launches Investigation of Age Bias at IBM

After a ProPublica story spotlighting IBM’s practices in shedding older workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission consolidated age discrimination complaints against the company from around the country.

Group to Send Lawyers to Help Incarcerated Teens

Controversy at youth facility in southern Illinois sparks a nonprofit to act.

Congress Aims to Force Pentagon Reform on Open Burning of Munitions

A provision of the latest proposed defense spending bill mandates that the Department of Defense address one of its longstanding and dangerous sources of pollution.

Connecticut Set to End “Dual Arrests” in Domestic Violence Cases

A bill before the governor aims to limit the harm caused when victims are arrested along with their abusers.

Marines Open Investigation into Active-Duty White Supremacist

The inquiry begins after a ProPublica and Frontline investigation and as a congressman calls on Department of Defense to better police its ranks.

Nonprofit Watchdog Group Shutting Down

Project Six is closing its doors following our story revealing conservative donors.

Fair Housing Groups Sue Facebook for Allowing Discrimination in Housing Ads

Borrowing from ProPublica’s playbook, advocates created fake companies and bought discriminatory ads on the social network.

Here’s One Issue Blue and Red States Agree On: Preventing Deaths of Expectant and New Mothers

From Indiana to Oregon, lawmakers are passing bills to increase scrutiny of maternal deaths. Often, they’re citing our “Lost Mothers” series.

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