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.

Latest Stories

After Decades, Voters Finally OK Replacement for Crumbling Idaho School

The vote follows a yearlong investigation by the Idaho Statesman and ProPublica into how the state’s restrictive funding policies left students studying in deteriorating buildings across the state.

Mississippi Lawmakers Move to Limit the Jail Detentions of People Awaiting Mental Health Treatment

Supporters say the measure is a step forward in curbing the number of people jailed during civil commitment. But some local officials say the impact will be limited unless the state makes other changes, including adding psychiatric beds.

Chevron Will Pay Record Fines for Oil Spills in California

The penalties come after an investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica found that companies were profiting from illegal spills and California’s oversight of the industry was lax.

Idaho Legislature Approves $2 Billion for Schools to Repair and Replace Aging Buildings

The funding was pledged by Gov. Brad Little after an Idaho Statesman and ProPublica investigation showed students learning in poor conditions. Educators say it’s only a start to fixing decades-old problems.

Virginia Lawmakers Approve Commission to Examine Universities’ Displacement of Black Communities

The groundbreaking commission, which was proposed in response to our “Uprooted” series, would consider compensation for dislodged property owners and their descendants. Whether Gov. Glenn Youngkin will sign the bill is unclear.

Lawmakers Could Limit When County Officials in Mississippi Can Jail People Awaiting Psychiatric Treatment

The legislation follows reporting by Mississippi Today and ProPublica showing that hundreds of people in the state are jailed every year while awaiting court-ordered treatment simply because public mental health facilities are full or too far away.

Idaho Legislature Takes Up Bill to Help School Districts Repair and Replace Buildings

The bill would provide $1.5 billion in new funding in a state where communities have struggled to pass bonds even as some students learn in freezing and overcrowded classrooms with leaky ceilings and discolored drinking water.

Task Force to Consider “Restorative Justice” for Black Families Uprooted by Virginia University’s Expansion

Spurred by our “Uprooted” series, a task force created by the city of Newport News and Christopher Newport University will reexamine decades of city and university records shedding light on a Black neighborhood’s destruction.

FEMA Leader Overseeing $4 Billion Fund to Pay Victims of New Mexico Wildfire Steps Down

Longtime agency official Angela Gladwell has overseen the fund to pay victims of a wildfire accidentally started by the federal government. Her departure comes amid criticism of FEMA’s handling of payments for damages.

Idaho Governor Proposes $2 Billion in Funding for School Buildings Over Next 10 Years

Gov. Brad Little cited reporting by the Idaho Statesman and ProPublica as he laid out his plan for a massive infrastructure investment in the state’s public schools during Monday’s State of the State address.

DTE Energy Facing Oversight of “Hardship-Inducing” Debt Collection Practices

The large utility must turn over details of its sales of customer debt, which previously were kept in the dark, but has fought off a ban on the practice.

In a Major Shift, Northwest Tribes — not U.S. Officials — Will Control Salmon Recovery Funds

The Biden administration punted on key demands from Indigenous leaders to tear down hydroelectric dams hindering salmon. But tribes won control over $1 billion for other salmon efforts.

Los Angeles Orders More Residential Hotels to Stop Renting to Tourists

Twenty-one hotels have been cited so far. If the citations are enforced and upheld in court, hundreds of rooms could be turned back into low-cost permanent housing for the city’s poorest residents.

Idaho Lawmakers Are Discussing a Proposal That Would Make It Easier to Repair Schools

For decades, Idaho’s high bar for school bonds has led to building conditions that students and teachers say make it difficult to learn. Amending the state constitution would help districts secure funding, but doing so won’t be easy.

Mayors Are Presiding Over Their Town Courts Despite Guidance Saying They Shouldn’t. A Lawmaker Calls for Reform.

We found more than a dozen places in Louisiana where the mayor sat on the bench of a court that pulled in a sizable share of the town’s revenue. The state says this arrangement could be unfair to defendants.

A Washington Special Education School Accused of Abusing Students Is Closing Amid Scrutiny

The state’s investigation of Northwest SOIL, a private program serving public school students, was prompted by reporting from The Seattle Times and ProPublica that uncovered accusations about staff restraining and injuring vulnerable students.

Tennessee Lawmakers Demand an Audit of Juvenile Detention Facilities, Citing “Culture Of Lawlessness”

Following reporting from WPLN and ProPublica, the state lawmakers said there is a “culture of lawlessness” inside Knoxville’s Richard L. Bean Center and called for an audit throughout the system.

Utah Therapist Arrested for Allegedly Sexually Abusing Patients During Sessions

Scott Owen, who was considered an expert in helping struggling gay Latter-day Saint men, is accused of assaulting his patients.

Virginia Lawmaker Calls for Commission to Study State Universities’ History of Uprooting Black Communities

In response to our reporting, state Delegate Delores McQuinn said a task force could shed light on the impact of college expansion in Virginia. Officials are also calling for displaced families to receive redress, from scholarships to reparations.

In 2018, We Reported on an Abusive Cop. He Was Just Sentenced to a Year in Prison.

Five years after ProPublica and the South Bend Tribune partnered to investigate police misconduct in Elkhart, Indiana, reporter Ken Armstrong reflects on the incremental but powerful impact journalism can have on communities.

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