ProPublica Announces Plan to Support Local Investigative Reporting

The Pulitzer-winning journalism nonprofit will pay salaries for staff members in six smaller-market newsrooms in an effort to ensure investigative reporting can continue outside of large cities.

Since ProPublica‘s founding a decade ago, the nonprofit has helped redefine the parameters of what it means to create and support investigative journalism—by partnering with larger outlets like The New York Times and paying for the work through donations and endowments.

The strategy has seen both success and a Pulitzer Prize pedigree—it’s won four since 2010. Now, it wants to help news outlets around the country gain something from its approach.

This week, the nonprofit announced the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, a program to help place investigative journalists in as many as six newsrooms around the country. ProPublica would pay salaries and benefits for the journalists in news markets that have populations below 1 million people.

“Over the past several years, economic pressures have reduced the ability of local and regional news organizations to support accountability reporting,” the nonprofit wrote in a statement on its website Thursday. “That’s a challenge not just for journalism, but also for our democracy. We’re committed to helping address that problem.”

The initiative will be targeted at specific investigative projects that can rely on either text or multimedia forms. (In other words, the initiative isn’t limited to newspapers.)

While ProPublica is paying the reporter’s salary, the local media outlet will still have a direct say in the reporter’s work—though as the results of the reporting will also show up on ProPublica.  One of the nonprofit’s editors will also work with the reporter.

“This sounds tricky, and it can sometimes get complicated,” the organization emphasized. “But through literally hundreds of partnerships, we’ve found that when people are truly committed to collaborating, there’s always a way to make it work.”

ProPublica will accept applications from local newsrooms between now and November 3. Those interested in taking part can sign up via this form.

The organization’s move to support newsrooms builds on ProPublica Illinois, the first initiative by the nonprofit to build a regional newsroom targeted at a single state.

(webphotographeer/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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