Impact

Journalism in the Public Interest

Impact has been at the core of ProPublica’s mission since we launched in 2008, 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.

Featured Impact

Facebook Won’t Let Employers, Landlords or Lenders Discriminate in Ads Anymore

The sweeping changes come two years after ProPublica’s reporting, which sparked lawsuits and widespread outrage.

IRS Reforms Free File Program, Drops Agreement Not to Compete With TurboTax

The changes come after ProPublica’s reporting showed how TurboTax maker Intuit tricked customers into paying for tax prep they could have gotten for free.

Illinois to Take Emergency Action to Halt Isolated Timeouts in Schools

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the practice of secluding children “appalling” and said he will work with legislators to end it.

We Reported on a Nonprofit Hospital System That Sues Poor Patients. It Just Freed Thousands From Debt.

After an investigation by MLK50 and ProPublica, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is erasing debt for unpaid hospital bills owed by more than 6,500 patients. Our reporting found the hospital had profited by aggressively pursuing patients who couldn’t pay.

More Impact

Sen. Burr Faces DOJ Investigation for Selling a Fortune in Stocks Right Before the Market Crashed

The investigation comes after ProPublica reported that the North Carolina lawmaker unloaded a significant portion of his total stock holdings before the coronavirus sell-off in the stock market.

“Now I Can Afford My Meds.” After Months of Appeals, Retiree’s Medicaid Benefits Are Restored.

South Carolina’s Medicaid agency abruptly and unexpectedly canceled Judith Persutti’s insurance in 2019, but reinstated it following a little-used appeals process.

The VA Will Now Let Some Administrative Staff Work From Home

After New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica reported that the VA was not allowing telework, the agency reversed course. Some workers remain skeptical that the policy will be implemented.

The Senator Who Dumped His Stocks Before the Coronavirus Crash Has Asked Ethics Officials for a “Complete Review”

After ProPublica’s report that Richard Burr dumped stocks after reassuring the public about coronavirus readiness, he said he welcomed an ethics investigation.

Spencer’s Pressured Employees to Come to Work, Selling Gag Gifts and Sex Toys, Until We Called

One store manager said the gag gift shop was “valuing us coming in and selling dildos and shot glasses over the health of our families.” Just before its deadline to comment, the store announced it was closing due to coronavirus.

House Democrats Probe Faulty Test Kits’ Role in Delaying Coronavirus Response

The House Oversight Committee cited ProPublica’s reporting in requesting documents from the Trump administration.

VA Secretary Under Investigation After Complaint He Looked for Dirt on a House Staffer Who Said She’d Been Assaulted

The agency’s internal watchdog told lawmakers about the probe after ProPublica unearthed the allegations against Secretary Robert Wilkie.

Senators Call on Highway Administration to Finalize Car Seat Test Rules

Two senators, citing ProPublica’s reporting on the dangers of Evenflo’s booster seats, want NHTSA to finish rules that Congress mandated 20 years ago.

He Went to Prison After a Prosecutor Hid Evidence. Seven Years After Our Story, He Walked Free.

Tyronne Johnson was featured in a 2013 ProPublica investigation that showed how a prosecutor kept jurors from hearing evidence that may have helped him beat a murder charge. He was granted parole this week and credits the story with helping him.

Illinois Adopts Stricter Rules Against Secluding and Physically Restraining Students in Schools

The state board of education stopped short of a complete ban on seclusion after a small number of special education schools asked for more leeway in dealing with students.

California Takes a First Step Toward Improving Its Failing County Jails

After an investigation by McClatchy and ProPublica, a state oversight agency is proposing tougher scrutiny and consequences for dangerous conditions in California’s county jails.

Utah Representative Proposes Bill to Stop Payday Lenders From Taking Bail Money from Borrowers

Debtors prisons were banned by Congress in 1833, but a ProPublica article that revealed the sweeping powers of high-interest lenders in Utah caught the attention of one legislator. Now, he’s trying to do something about it.

We Showed How Easy It Is to Commit Health Care Fraud. Now Senators Want to Close the Loophole.

The bipartisan proposal comes in response to a ProPublica story that showed how a personal trainer posed as a doctor to defraud prominent health insurers.

School Employees Have Used Isolated Timeouts Illegally, State Investigations Find

In six of eight districts investigators examined, they found that workers broke the law by improperly secluding students. Parents say the investigations, which were prompted by a Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois story, have not gone far enough.

House Subcommittee Opens Investigation of Evenflo, Maker of “Big Kid” Booster Seats

The probe comes after ProPublica’s story showing that the company put marketing of its “Big Kid” booster seats over child safety.

Justice Dept. Says It Will Investigate Deadly Conditions at Four Mississippi Prisons

The agency’s Civil Rights Division decided to act after a letter from prison reformers citing stories by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

Dating Apps Can Be Dangerous. Congress Is Investigating.

Prompted by press reports, including a recent article by Columbia Journalism Investigations and ProPublica, a House subcommittee announced that it would examine the use of dating apps by minors and the prevalence of sex offenders on such sites.

Local Accountability Journalism Still Has a Huge Impact

Between the Local Reporting Network and ProPublica Illinois, our work shows that state leaders across the country are listening and things can change.

Sex Offenders Were Becoming Cops. After Our Stories, Alaska’s Governor Wants That To End.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed law comes after Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica found that dozens of rural Alaskan police officers had been hired despite criminal convictions.

Alaska’s Public Safety Officer Program Is Failing. Can It Be Saved?

A big part of Alaska’s law enforcement crisis is a program that recruits residents of remote villages and trains them to work as police. Now, a group of state legislators is proposing nine ideas to rescue the program.

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