Data Reporter, ProPublica Illinois

We are not currently accepting applications for this position.

ProPublica is seeking a smart, motivated data journalist to join its Chicago-based newsroom.

We’re casting a wide net, and so we don’t expect applicants to have all of the skills we describe below. The position will ultimately be tailored to the strengths of the person who fills it. Our newsroom is small, multitalented and highly collaborative, so if you’re are strong in some of these areas but not others, we still want to hear from you! Please tell us about all your skills, both data-related and beyond.

Here are some potential roles we’ll need you to play:

  • Collaborate with and guide other reporters to elevate our journalism by working with them to best use data.
  • Develop and produce your own accountability story ideas, both independently and in partnership with others, by combining data work, interviewing and on-the-ground reporting with excellent storytelling.
  • Manage our newsroom’s data, including FOIAing for it, scraping it, cleaning it, analyzing it and preparing it for publication.
  • Bulletproof and spot-check data work done by other journalists in the newsroom.
  • Teach and encourage best practices and newsroom data policies.
  • Work alongside our news applications developer on interactive data projects that help Illinoisans understand their world and make good decisions.

We’re looking for someone with:

  • The self-discipline to work independently, as well as genuine eagerness to work with others. You’ll be the only data reporter in our Chicago newsroom and should be comfortable in a role that requires both initiative and collaborative skills, as well as an ability to manage multiple responsibilities.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and solid editorial judgment.
  • A reporter’s instinct for finding the stories hiding inside the numbers.
  • A keen and careful eye for detail and documentation, and experience using reproducible data analysis methods.
  • A solid understanding of the tools of data journalism, such as database management systems (SQL Server, PostgreSQL, etc.), statistics software (R, SPSS, etc.), Microsoft Excel and so on.
  • Experience with best practices in data journalism.
  • A good understanding of state and municipal government data.
  • A commitment to being a great colleague and respectful human being.

If you’re already familiar with Chicago and Illinois, that’s a plus, but we’re also interested in candidates who can demonstrate their ability to learn about an area — and its data — quickly. This includes knowing — and being able to gather on short notice — data about state and local budgets, campaign finance, lobbying, crime, education and other topics.

This position is full-time and you’ll be based in our Chicago office, though you’ll also be learning from and working with ProPublica’s award-winning data team based in New York. We are not considering remote applicants for this position.

Although this is not a coding job, programming is becoming an increasingly important tool for any data journalist, so experience using programming techniques to find and analyze data — or a demonstrated aptitude to learn — would be very useful.

We are dedicated to improving our newsroom, in part by better reflecting the people we cover. (Here is a breakdown of our own staff.)

We are committed to diversity and building an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds and ages. And we are taking steps to meet that commitment. We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

What you should send us:

We cannot emphasize this enough: Great projects are the most important part of the application.

The application form will allow you to send us three projects from your portfolio, as well as give you the space to walk us through your own contributions to those projects. Take advantage of this to tell us everything you did, from behind-the-scenes wins you’re proud of to how you helped your colleagues.

Make sure to read the section above, titled “We’re looking for someone with,” because it’s also our evaluation criteria for the position. Use your projects and the rest of your application to show us that you’ve got the skills we’ve listed, or why the skills you have are the ones we actually need.

We know there may be great candidates reading this who think they don’t fit into what we’ve described, or who have other skills that could bring a lot to this position. There also may be candidates who talk themselves out of applying even if they would be great at this job. If any of that describes you, please don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. There’s space in the application to tell us everything you bring to the table, and we look forward to reading it.

Interested? Use this form to apply. The last day to apply is Sunday, April 28, at 11:59 p.m. CDT. We’ll start reviewing applications right after.

Questions? Email [email protected] and [email protected]. Louise is the editor in chief of ProPublica Illinois and Ryann is the editor of ProPublica’s data team in New York.

No phone calls, please.

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