These media sources have a slight to moderate liberal bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor liberal causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information but may require further investigation. See all Left-Center sources.
- Overall, we rate ProPublica Left-Center biased based on story selection that favors the left and factually High due to proper sourcing and evidence-based reporting.
Factual Reporting: HIGH
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
ProPublica, headquartered in New York City, is a non-profit investigative journalism organization founded in 2007 by businessman Herbert Sandler and his partner and late wife, Marion Osher Sandler. They state their mission as:
“ To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”
Herbert Sandler (a real estate attorney) and Marion Sandler (a former Wall Street analyst) founded Golden West Financial Corporation, sold to Wachovia Bank in 2006. Paul Sagan is the chairman effective Jan. 1, 2017, succeeding founding chairman Herbert Sandler, who remains a ProPublica director. Richard Tofel is the president of ProPublica. Former editor of the Wall Street Journal, Paul Steiger is currently the executive chairman, and Stephen Engelberg is the Editor-in-Chief. Tim Golden and Allan Sloan are the Editors at Large.
ProPublica has won the Pulitzer Prize 4 times since 2010 and numerous other awards for journalism. On August 8th, 2018, they announced they would expand their local reporting network to focus on State Governments.
Funded by / Ownership
Herbert Sandler is the Founding Chairman of ProPublica. In addition to Sandler Foundation, which was formed in 1991 by Herbert Sandler and Marion Sandler and provided initial financial support ( $30 million for the first three years), ProPublica has also received funding from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, The Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Foundation to Promote Open Society among others. The complete donor list is here, and the annual financial statement here. As a nonprofit news organization, ProPublica is primarily funded by individual donations and online advertising.
ProPublica partners with 47 sources, including reputable left-leaning news organizations such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Politico, Bloomberg, NPR, PBS, ABC, BBC, Miami Herald, and many others to produce and publish stories, and unless otherwise stated most of their stories are available for reprint under a Creative Commons license.
As a philanthropist, Sandler has donated approximately $1.5 billion in support of organizations involved in medical research, civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, and scientific research, especially for diseases that affect low-income people, the environment, and human rights. According to a Vanity Fair article and the Washington Post, Herbert Sandler is an influential Clinton donor.
In review, ProPublica is criticized by right-leaning news sources such as the Washington Examiner for favoring the left in their investigative journalism: ProPublica is the left’s biggest muckraker you never heard of. However, ProPublica defends their journalism and integrity with this response: “We stick with the facts, and several editors read every story.” In general, their investigations look at corruption and abuses of power. While ProPublica purports to be non-partisan, a review of their recent reports is aimed at right-leaning politicians and their issues.
Another example of left-leaning bias can be found in the article titled “Senator Demands Answers From Case Farms,” which contains a note at the end of the article that reads, “Do you have information about how immigrant workers are being treated in the age of Trump?” Mentioning Trump is conveying a negative bias towards Trump’s right-leaning immigration policies.
ProPublica publishes stories with emotionally loaded headlines such as this: “The Shadow Rulers of the VA.” When it comes to sourcing, they typically utilize source documents via documentcloud.org. They also use credible left-leaning sources such as Politico, New York Times, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast.
Failed Fact Checks
- None to date
Overall, we rate ProPublica Left-Center biased based on story selection that favors the left and factually High due to proper sourcing and evidence-based reporting. (10/23/2016) Updated (M. Huitsing 11/22/2020)