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

Florida Plans Audit of Program That Blocks Parents of Brain-Damaged Newborns From Suing

Officials called for reforms hours after an investigation by the Miami Herald and ProPublica identified gaps in a Florida program that strips families of their right to sue when births go horribly wrong.

New York City Kills COVID Rule That Led to Repeated School Closings Despite No Evidence of Outbreaks

Last week ProPublica cited epidemiologists saying New York was “crazy” to keep closing schools over two unlinked positive cases. This week, the city ended the rule.

The City That Pinned Its Renewal on a Self-Chilling Beverage Can Wants Its Money Back

A company promised to create 237 jobs making the first ever self-chilling beverage can, winning big public subsidies in return. Four years later, there are no jobs and you still put your beer in the fridge. The city may demand the subsidies back.

Documents Show Trump Officials Skirted Rules to Reward Politically Connected and Untested Firms With Huge Pandemic Contracts

House Democrats investigating the COVID-19 response say Trump adviser Peter Navarro pressured agencies to award deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The Ball Was Dropped by All”: How Cops Got More Than $400,000 in Unlawful Sick Day Payouts

Records in 25 New Jersey towns show that police officers took annual payments for unused sick days despite a law forbidding the practice. The payments add up to nearly half a million dollars from 2017 through 2019. The cops may have to pay it back.

California Sent $8 Billion to Counties to Improve Jails and Services But Failed to Track the Money, Says Auditor

The audit, requested following a surge of jail deaths reported on by The Sacramento Bee and ProPublica, found that county and state officials failed to adequately account for billions in spending.

There’s Only One State Where Falling Behind on Rent Could Mean Jail Time. That Could Change.

Only Arkansas permits criminal consequences for nonpayment of rent — and it has enforced the law during the pandemic. Now, after ProPublica investigated the practice, some legislators want to revoke the statute.

Senator Says Censorship in Turkey Raises “Serious Questions” About Facebook's Commitment to Free Expression

After ProPublica reported that Facebook blocked a militia group targeted by Turkish forces, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee demanded that Mark Zuckerberg provide answers to more than a dozen questions.

As New York City Moves to Address Racialized Policing of Sex Work, Advocates and Lawyers Say It’s Not Enough

In the wake of a 2020 ProPublica investigation, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for convening a task force to address problems with how the city polices the sex trade. “But it feels like planning to make a plan,” one attorney said.

Tinder and OkCupid Could Soon Let You Background Check Your Date — for a Price

Dogged by questions about sexual violence, Match Group — which owns Tinder, Hinge, Match.com, OkCupid, PlentyofFish and others — is investing in a company that aims to enable background checks on apps. Some legislators say it’s not enough.

Feds Investigating Lender That Sued Thousands of Lower-Income Latinos During Pandemic

Oportun Inc., a small-dollar loan company, disclosed to investors that it is the subject of a probe by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following reporting by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

A Las Vegas Judge Approves $1.4 Million Payment to Wrongfully Convicted Man Who Served More Than Two Decades

Fred Steese, who spent decades behind bars for murder — despite the fact that Nevada state prosecutors had documents showing he was in another state at the time of the crime — will receive cash, fees and a certificate of innocence.

Utility Companies Owe Millions to This State Regulatory Agency. The Problem? The Agency Can’t Track What It’s Owed.

When a whistleblower alleged that $200 million was missing from the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency says it took steps to collect. Yet an audit uncovered more missing money and cited flaws in the agency’s accounting system.

Hawaii’s Beaches Are Disappearing. New Legislation Could Help ... if It’s Enforced.

A legal loophole allowed wealthy property owners to protect their real estate at the expense of Hawaii’s coastlines. Now, the state Legislature is considering bills to crack down on the destructive practices, but questions around enforcement remain.

“We Have Counties in Deep Trouble”: Oregon Lawmakers Seek to Reverse Timber Tax Cuts That Cost Communities Billions

For decades, corporate timber benefited from tax cuts that devastated local budgets. Lawmakers want change and have filed dozens of bills, making this one of Oregon’s most consequential sessions for forest policy.

After Hundreds of Meatpacking Workers Died From COVID-19, Congress Wants Answers

A key House subcommittee cited reports by ProPublica and other news outlets in launching an investigation into how the country’s meatpacking companies handled the pandemic, which has killed hundreds of workers to date.

Contractor Who Was Awarded $34.5 Million in Government Money and Provided Zero Masks Pleads Guilty to Fraud

The VA and FEMA agreed to pay a first-time vendor in a desperate search for protective equipment. Now Robert Stewart admits he defrauded three federal agencies and lied about being in the Marine Corps.

New York City Council Proposes Sweeping NYPD Reforms

The council has announced a package of bills to reshape the NYPD and improve officer accountability. A City Council member cited a “direct line” from ProPublica’s coverage to the proposals.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations Prompt Another Alaska Attorney General to Resign

Ed Sniffen stepped down as the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica were preparing an article about his relationship with a 17-year-old girl three decades ago. The state has now launched an investigation into the allegations.

“The People We Serve Are Paying Too Much for Energy:” Virginia Lawmakers Are Targeting Dominion Energy

A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers are pushing a legislative package to strengthen oversight of the state’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. The effort could return millions in refunds to customers.

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