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

Senate Investigation Criticizes the IRS for Failing to Oversee Free Filing Program

Millions of Americans have spent billions on TurboTax and other tax prep that they shouldn’t have. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recommends the IRS advertise the free filing option.

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.

The Trump Administration Is Backing Out of a $647 Million Ventilator Deal After ProPublica Investigated the Price

The government overpaid by hundreds of millions for Philips ventilators, says a House investigation spurred by ProPublica reporting. Now that deal is off and Congress is scrutinizing other coronavirus deals made by trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Her Online Coursework, Is Released

Grace’s story, first published by ProPublica Illinois, prompted outrage and debate across the country. Though a judge refused to set the girl free, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from a juvenile detention facility in Detroit.

More Impact

Thousands of Illinois Drivers Would Get Their Licenses Back Under a Criminal Justice Reform Bill

If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the measure that lawmakers passed this week, motorists will no longer lose their licenses for unpaid red-light and speed camera tickets.

South Carolina’s Governor Addresses Magistrate Judge Controversy by Urging Changes

An investigation from the Post and Courier and ProPublica found that most judges had no law training and some accepted bribes, stole money and ignored constitutional protections. Now, South Carolina’s governor says he wants change.

CDC Shut Down a Lab Involved in Making Faulty Coronavirus Tests

A CDC lab involved in making faulty coronavirus tests sent to state and local officials early in the pandemic was closed down hours after an October investigation by ProPublica exposed key mistakes the CDC made in manufacturing those tests.

Lavish Bonus? Luxury Trip? Health Benefits Brokers Will Have to Disclose What They Receive From the Insurance Industry

Employers trust brokers to guide them to the best value, but conflicts of interest abound. Tucked into the coronavirus relief bill, a new federal requirement will mandate more transparency.

Magistrate Judges Took Bribes, Stole Money and Mishandled Cases. South Carolina Officials Now Want Reform.

South Carolina lawmakers are eyeing reforms to strengthen oversight of magistrate judges after ProPublica and The Post and Courier found some had been appointed and reappointed despite ethical and professional lapses.

Hawaii Officials Promise Changes to Seawall Policies That Have Quickened Beach Destruction

Seawalls erode Hawaii’s beaches, but the state has been lax about approving them and disorganized about enforcing the law. Officials now pledge action, after a Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica investigation.

Calls Increase for NYPD Commissioner to Be Stripped of Absolute Authority Over Officer Discipline

Recently released documents show that NYPD commissioners have used their authority to reject the civilian review board’s recommendations and even guilty pleas from officers themselves.

New York Lawmakers Demand NYPD Halt Undercover Sex Trade Stings

A dozen city and state officials also called for the disbandment of vice, the primary division that polices the sex trade; some want investigations into misconduct allegations against the unit, including withholding of evidence.

VA Secretary Focused on Smearing Woman Who Said She Was Sexually Assaulted in a VA Hospital, Probe Finds

An investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs internal watchdog confirms ProPublica’s reporting that Secretary Robert Wilkie wanted to discredit a congressional aide who said she was attacked in a VA facility last year.

New Bill Proposes Stopping Unemployment Agencies That Make Mistakes From Demanding Money Back

State unemployment agencies have been demanding recipients repay thousands of dollars, even if the agency made the mistake and the money’s already been spent. After ProPublica investigated the practice, legislators are trying to end it.

House Subcommittee Says Proposed Booster Seat Safety Rules Fall Short

Following a ProPublica investigation, members of Congress say “unsafe” booster seats are being sold to parents while regulators fail to protect children.

Following Our Investigation, the Director of Maine’s Public Defense Agency Resigns

Amid mounting criticism of his management of attorneys, finances and the quality of legal services for Maine’s poor, John Pelletier stepped down as executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. His last day will be Dec. 11.

Leader of Newark Beth Israel’s Troubled Heart Transplant Program Departs

Dr. Mark Zucker was put on administrative leave after ProPublica showed he told staff to keep a heart transplant patient on life support because of concerns about survival stats. Now Newark Beth Israel will seek a new leader for the program.

Illinois Will Start Sharing Data About COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools

As educators and parents assess the risk of returning to the classroom, some felt frustrated by the lack of public data about COVID-19 in schools. After a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation, the state will start publishing the data.

New Bill Aims to End Racial Disparities in Amputations

Informed by a ProPublica article investigating why Black Americans were three times more likely to undergo diabetic amputations, five members of congress are working to fund screening and enhance diagnostics in an effort to save limbs.

New York Court Officials to Review Cases Handled by Judge With Alzheimer’s

The review will involve only cases the judge, ShawnDya Simpson of State Supreme Court, dealt with while on medical leave.

Cleveland Hospitals’ Private Police “Border Patrol” Comes Under Scrutiny

Local elected officials and the NAACP are calling for tougher supervision of private police forces, including one run by the Cleveland Clinic, after ProPublica found that these officers disproportionately arrest Black people.

Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Poor Residents. The Governor Wants Reform.

Gov. Janet Mills publicly called for a bipartisan effort to reform Maine’s defense system for poor people accused of crimes in response to an investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica.

The Trump Administration Allowed Aviation Companies to Take Bailout Funds and Lay Off Workers, Says House Report

Instead of using bailout money to keep workers, at least two companies restored the full pay of their top management.

Black Landowners Will Benefit From New Funding to Prevent Land Loss

A year after a ProPublica story highlighted problems for landowners who passed down “heirs’ property” without wills, a reformer won a MacArthur “genius” award and a nonprofit organization has received a flood of donations.

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