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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

More Than Me CEO Katie Meyler Temporarily Steps Down

Four days after ProPublica published a story about the charity, its board chairman has also resigned, multiple groups are conducting independent investigations and Liberians are outraged.

Four Men Arrested Over Unrest During 2017 “Unite the Right” Rally

The four are members or associates of the Rise Above Movement, a white supremacist group based in Southern California, prosecutors say.

Challenged by Long Island Lawmakers, Police Will Look Into Treatment of Immigrant Families Who Reported Missing Children

Spurred by reporting from ProPublica, Newsday and This American Life, Suffolk County police will revisit cases in which parents allege misconduct.

Inspector General del Departamento de Justicia investigará un programa de la DEA vinculado con masacres en México

La indagación surge gracias a los reportajes de ProPublica que mostraron que la unidad autorizada de la DEA en ese país tiene antecedentes de revelar información confidencial a narcotraficantes.

Justice Department Inspector General to Investigate DEA Program Linked to Massacres in Mexico

The inquiry stems from stories by ProPublica that showed the DEA’s vetted unit in the country has had a history of leaking sensitive information to drug traffickers.

Senators Seek Answers From HUD About Public Housing Crisis in East St. Louis

Last year, HUD Secretary Ben Carson gave control of the city’s public housing complexes back to local officials after a lengthy federal receivership. He said problems had been fixed, but an investigation by The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica found deteriorating conditions.

Sanitation Salvage Ordered to Halt Trash Collections

The Business Integrity Commission suspended the license of one of New York’s biggest garbage haulers after it was involved in two fatal accidents and a spate of collisions.

Besieged Facebook Says New Ad Limits Aren’t Response to Lawsuits

The social network is removing 5,000 options that regulators say enable advertisers to discriminate.

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.

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