ProPublica named six newsrooms and local reporters on Friday that will participate in the latest expansion of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, a program aimed at supporting investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations. The projects, which will begin on July 1 and continue for a year, are supported by a grant from the Abrams Foundation.
Through the program, participating reporters will collaborate with ProPublica senior editor Zahira Torres as they embark on investigative journalism within their communities. ProPublica reimburses one year’s salary and benefits for each of the participating reporters and also supports projects with its expertise in data, research and engagement elements of the work.
The ProPublica Local Reporting Network kicked off in January 2018 with projects at seven news organizations across the country. The program expanded to 14 newsrooms this January and, with the addition of these six projects, will reach 20.
The newsrooms selected for the expansion were chosen from a pool of 138 applications from 42 states as well as the District of Columbia. Topics will include health care, tribal schools, housing, correctional facilities and environmental regulation.
“I am excited to work with these newsrooms to realize their ambitious visions for local journalism,” Torres said. “We reviewed a highly competitive field of applications and we’re delighted to work on this diverse range of important projects.”
The selected newsrooms and reporters are:
- The Arizona Republic, Alden Woods
- The Capital (Annapolis, Maryland), Danielle Ohl
- The Frontier (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Brianna Bailey
- Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, R.G. Dunlop
- Miami Herald, Carol Marbin Miller
- Oregon Public Broadcasting, Tony Schick
“The Local Reporting Network has already exceeded our high expectations for it,” said Charles Ornstein, a deputy managing editor at ProPublica who oversees the network. “The stories are resonating deeply in their communities and prompting real change. We are confident these new projects will do the same.”
Projects from this year’s Local Reporting Network have exposed the serious harms caused by California’s shift of inmates from state prisons to county jails, the vast swaths of Alaska that have no local law enforcement officers, and how wealthy towns in Connecticut have fought to keep affordable housing out. A project about how Rhode Island’s 911 operators are unprepared to handle cardiac arrest calls has led to the removal of the head of the state 911 system and a budget proposal to increase training for 911 call takers. Another project about a tax incentive program in New Jersey has caused the state to freeze a $260 million tax break for Holtec International, an energy company that built its new headquarters on the Camden waterfront.
Projects from the inaugural ProPublica Local Reporting Network in 2018 exposed lapses in worker safety at nuclear facilities; failures in public housing; conflicts of interest that have allowed Louisiana legislators to benefit themselves, their relatives and their clients; and the devastating toll of post-traumatic stress disorder on first responders. An investigation from the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, which uncovered shocking misconduct by Elkhart County police, prompted the police chief to resign and the Elkhart mayor to announce an independent review of the city’s Police Department, in addition to a federal grand jury indictment of two Elkhart police officers on civil rights charges. The series was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. A project by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, exploring the price paid by West Virginia residents as the natural gas industry gains power, was a finalist for the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for environmental reporting.
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