While the vast majority of ProPublica’s work comes from our staff, we occasionally consider supporting ambitious accountability stories or projects from independent journalists whose ideas align with the mission of our organization.
Here’s what journalists submitting proposals should know.
We’re open to investigations that are revelatory or substantially advance what is known on a subject of importance. The investigation should have the potential to trigger needed reforms by identifying a problem, who’s responsible and what should change. It should also clearly show harm. The investigation can be rooted in a place or focus on a person, but it should illuminate an issue of broader relevance.
The best proposals have a clear hypothesis, typically based on significant reporting: They don’t wonder whether something bad is happening, they know it. Please include not only a general description of the topic, but also a sense of the anecdotes/data/documents you have gathered, what you expect to find and possible accountability stories you want to tell.
In addition, applicants should detail, as much as is possible at the outset, what an investigation will require: data work, travel, obtaining public records. It’s also important for us to know what data, documents and/or source relationships the reporter already has. Finally, we’d like to hear a bit about why you are particularly suited to do this investigation.
If all of this sounds exciting to you, you can apply using this form.
For those proposals we accept, we pay competitive freelance rates, including reporting expenses. Freelancers are independent contractors and will not be treated by ProPublica as employees for any purpose. Independent contractors are responsible for paying any required taxes on any compensation received and for understanding the applicable tax laws.
We are dedicated to widening our pool of freelancers, in part by better reflecting the people we cover. (Here is a breakdown of our 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. We are an equal opportunity employer and prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind. All employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age or any other status protected under applicable law.
We will begin reviewing applications as we receive them, and aim to notify candidates regarding your proposals within two weeks of submission.