Impact

Journalism in the Public Interest

Impact has been at the core of ProPublica’s mission since we launched in 2008, and that’s true for our Local Reporting Network, too. What we mean by impact is that our investigative journalism seeks to do more than expose wrongdoing and injustice; we hope to spark real-world change.

We’ve written a white paper on the topic, and examples of how the journalism of our newsroom and our Local Reporting Network partners 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 stories that show the impact of journalism produced through the Local Reporting Network.

Featured Impact

A Hospital Was Accused of Racially Profiling Native American Women. Staff Said Administrators Impeded an Investigation.

Federal regulators are investigating a New Mexico hospital accused of racial profiling. This comes as hospital staff said administrators appeared to hide documents and discouraged cooperation with an initial state inquiry.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What Happens After a Debt Collection Machine Grinds to a Halt

One year ago, Methodist Le Bonheur hospital system erased nearly $12 million of medical debt after an investigation from MLK50 and ProPublica. We checked in with two women who have new jobs and a new optimism about their future.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Calls for Audit After Our Reporting on a State Institute That Lobbied for the Timber Industry

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute worked to undercut academic research and acted as a lobbying and public relations arm for the timber industry. Now, the governor has asked for an audit.

Alaska’s Attorney General Resigns Hours After We Published “Uncomfortable” Texts He Sent to a Younger Colleague

An Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica investigation revealed Kevin Clarkson texted a much-younger state employee hundreds of times, often using kiss emoji and commenting on her appearance.

Federal Investigation Finds Hospital Violated Patients’ Rights by Profiling, Separating Native Mothers and Newborns

It remains unclear just how many newborns were separated from their mothers as a result of the policies. Lovelace Women’s Hospital did not admit to any wrongdoing but reported that the practice has been halted.

State Investigating Hospital With Coronavirus Policy That Profiled Pregnant Native American Mothers and Separated Them From Newborns

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham cited “significant, awful allegations” in a ProPublica and New Mexico In Depth story on a hospital where clinicians said pregnant Native women were singled out for COVID-19 testing and separated from newborns after delivery.

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.

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