ProPublica was founded in 2008 to address a growing lack of investigative reporting amid a shrinking news business. The crisis of the press continues today, and over the past several years accountability journalism at local and regional levels has been particularly hard hit.
Since our founding, ProPublica has partnered with local newsrooms across the country to bring much needed scrutiny to their public officials, private businesses and other institutions. Since 2017, we have invested additional resources in a range of initiatives to support local accountability journalism.
Work from these local initiatives has prompted extraordinary impact across the country, in addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, the Scripps Howard Impact Award and a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, among other honors.
In 2017, ProPublica announced the launch of our first regional reporting hub, with a staff of journalists covering accountability issues across the state of Illinois. In 2021, we are dramatically scaling up our commitment to local investigative journalism.
ProPublica Illinois set the standard for our local news initiatives, and has demonstrated the importance of a deep, long-term investment in a particular region. Now we are broadening the efforts of the Illinois office to cover a broader swath of the Midwest, with four additional reporters focused on Wisconsin, Michigan, and likely Missouri. Read our coverage from this region.
The South appears frequently in our reporting on a range of issues, from health care to education to criminal justice, and many of these issues are playing out most crucially in this region. We are creating a seven-person reporting unit, based in Atlanta, to cover the South, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Coming in 2021.
In 2021, ProPublica is launching a six-person reporting unit based in Phoenix to cover the Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and possibly Colorado. Many of these states are among the fastest-growing in the nation, and we have ongoing collaborations with many local news organizations in this region. Coming in 2021.
In 2019, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune embarked on a first-of-its-kind collaboration to publish investigative reporting for and about Texas. Our jointly operated, 11-person investigative reporting unit invests more than $1.6 million a year into critical accountability and watchdog journalism. Both organizations publish the team’s stories, which are distributed for free to news organizations in Texas and beyond. Read our coverage.
As a New York-based news organization, we have also long covered accountability issues in our own backyard. Our past work has investigated issues of police accountability, how New York City landlords sidestep tenant protections, problems with DNA testing techniques used by the city’s medical examiner, and how a housing program for mentally ill New Yorkers has proven unsafe and sometimes deadly. Our collaboration with the New York Daily News on abuses in the New York City Police Department’s enforcement of nuisance abatement actions won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for public service.
ProPublica Local Reporting Network
ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network began in January 2018. The program gives local reporters the opportunity to tackle big, yearlong investigative stories that are crucial to their communities. Selected reporters work in and report to their home newsrooms, while receiving extensive support and guidance from ProPublica. In addition to news organizations receiving a one-year grant, reporters collaborate with a ProPublica senior editor, and ProPublica’s expertise with data, research, design, audience and engagement is made available for the work.
In 2021, we launched a Distinguished Fellows program as an outgrowth of the Local Reporting Network. Aimed at deepening ProPublica’s relationship with the partner newsrooms and their communities, the longer-term Distinguished Fellows program enables reporters to pursue a broad range of stories by funding local reporters’ salaries and benefits for three years as they produce important investigative projects from their home newsrooms. Six local reporters have been selected as the inaugural members of the ProPublica Distinguished Fellows program.
Our partners’ stories have made a real difference in their communities and have been recognized nationally with prestigious journalism awards. Learn more.
Since 2016, ProPublica has embarked on a series of collaborative data journalism projects that provide data, training, and tools to local journalists on topics of broad importance.
Over the past three federal election cycles, Electionland has monitored voting problems in real time, bringing together more than 1,000 journalists and students across the country. The initiative collects data from multiple sources and verifies credible leads, handing them off to participating local journalists who can follow up on problems while the polls are still open. Electionland has been recognized with an Online Journalism Award and a Data Journalism Award for News Data App of the Year, among other honors.
Documenting Hate launched in 2017 after a surge in reported hate incidents, along with inadequate data collection on hate crimes. From January 2017 through December 2019, the initiative collected more than 5,000 reports in a database used by more than 170 newsrooms. The project was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and a Scripps Howard Award.