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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

Top Official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Resigns After Failing to Disclose Industry Ties

Dr. José Baselga, the hospital’s chief medical officer, stepped down days after a report by ProPublica and the New York Times that he failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from the health care and drug industry in research articles.

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

Lawsuit Targets Illinois’ Child Welfare Agency Over Children Languishing in Psychiatric Hospitals

The suit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, filed on behalf of hundreds of children, claims holding them after doctors clear them for release compounds their trauma. “I felt trapped,” one teen said.

Doctors Defending Convicted Child Abuser “Exceed the Limits of Credulity,” Judge Rules

The decision in a closely watched Florida case was a setback for Dr. David Ayoub, following our recent article about his work as an expert witness.

“Landmark” Maternal Health Legislation Clears Major Hurdle

In the wake of the ProPublica and NPR series “Lost Mothers,” the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill to fund state committees to review and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.

Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct

A former University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is at the center of a state medical licensing and disciplinary board inquiry.

Stung by Controversies, Police Chief Resigns in Elkhart, Indiana

Ed Windbigler’s resignation as chief follows a videotaped beating of a handcuffed man and reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica that he had promoted officers with disciplinary histories.

Judge Calls for Examination of Quality Controls in New York Supported Housing System

The day ProPublica and Frontline reported how people with mental illness are slipping through the cracks, federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis questioned state officials, suggested more help and requested a report on oversight.

FBI Moves to Fix Critical Flaw in Its Crime Reporting System

In response to an investigation by Newsy, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica, the bureau says it has expedited a process expected to change reporting rules and require police to disclose cases they classify as unfounded.

Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

The group is part of an effort to make vehicle ticketing less unfair.

Elkhart City Council Members Support Investigation of Police Department

If the Department of Justice won’t investigate, council members say they would pay for an outside investigation into misconduct by Elkhart police.

A Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Will Lose Federal Funding Over Safety and Abuse Issues Involving Children in State Care

At the same time, a federal judge said he will appoint a monitor to oversee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “The stakes cannot be higher,” the judge said.

Chicago Throws Out 23,000 Duplicate Tickets Issued Since 1992 to Motorists Who Didn’t Have Vehicle Stickers

The move is the city’s latest effort to reform its troubled ticketing and debt collection practices.

DeVos’ Inspector General to Audit Dismissals of Civil Rights Complaints

The review could shed light on the Education Department’s reluctance, documented by a series of ProPublica articles, to investigate alleged discrimination by school districts and colleges.

Sanitation Salvage, Troubled Garbage Hauler, Surrenders Operating License

In a letter sent to New York City regulators, lawyers for the company said it would cease operations “forthwith.”

Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Suspended for 30 Days Following Release of Beating Video

The mayor disciplined the chief after revelations by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about the city’s troubled police force. But the mayor made no public announcement, leaving people, including the chair of the city’s civilian oversight commission, to wonder where the chief was.

Oregon Officials Call for Changes of Laws on Criminally Insane

The state’s attorney general said the rate of recidivism among defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity is “too high,” and key lawmakers said they plan to rewrite the state’s laws after an analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica.

ACLU of Illinois Demands Removal of Children in DCFS Care From Troubled Chicago Hospital

More allegations of sexual abuse at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, already under government scrutiny, have surfaced.

Chicago City Council Members Seek Hearing on Psychiatric Hospital

Aldermen ask for hearing to address allegations of sexual and physical abuse at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

Chicago City Council Approves Modest First Reforms on Ticketing and Debt

The changes signal a growing acknowledgement that the city’s reliance on fines and fees to generate revenue has come at a significant cost for some residents.

Top Chicago Alderman Adds to Growing Momentum for Ticket and Debt Reform

The proposal, the latest in a series of reforms aiming to respond to growing public pressure, would make it easier for motorists to avoid having their driver’s licenses suspended.

Illinois DCFS Agrees to Outside Inquiry at Psychiatric Hospital Where Children Have Reported Abuse

Under mounting pressure, the state child welfare agency agreed to a broad investigation, but the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates said they will remain vigilant.

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