ProPublica launched our Local Reporting Network in 2018 to help create vital, investigative journalism in communities where such stories would otherwise not be done.
We are seeking new projects for 2020, and in this round of applications, we are looking for local accountability stories. These can be about local governments, sheriffs, jails, companies, nonprofits or regional issues.
We will pay the salary, plus an allowance for benefits, for full-time reporters at six partner news organizations. We expect that at least one winning proposal will come from Illinois to complement our own local work at ProPublica Illinois. Applications are due Oct. 30, and selected reporters will begin work on Jan. 2 and work on their projects throughout 2020.
Among our local projects this year, MLK50, a nonprofit news organization in Memphis, Tennessee, reported on how the area’s largest hospital system sued and garnished the wages of thousands of poor patients, including its own employees, for unpaid medical debts. The hospital subsequently said it would raise the minimum wage it pays employees, dramatically expand its financial assistance policy for hospital care and stop suing its own employees for unpaid medical debts.
The Anchorage Daily News, in a first-of-its-kind investigation, found that one in three communities in Alaska has no local law enforcement: no state troopers to stop an active shooter, no village police officers to break up family fights, not even untrained city or tribal cops to patrol the streets. Following that coverage, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr visited Alaska and later declared a state of emergency, releasing millions in federal funds to devote to the problem.
All told, we will be working with more than 20 partners in 2020.
If your organization is selected, the reporter will continue to work in your newsroom but will receive extensive guidance and support from ProPublica. The work will be published or broadcast by your newsroom and simultaneously by ProPublica. While the reporter does not have to be based in your state capital, he or she will have to spend time there during the year.
All news organizations in cities with populations of fewer than 1 million people are eligible to apply. We are not looking to fund day-to-day coverage, but instead to enable your organization to do ambitious accountability projects that would not otherwise be done.
Applications should be submitted by newsroom leaders for a particular project and a specific reporter. If you lead a newsroom and are interested in working with us, we’d like to hear from you about:
An investigative project. The proposed coverage can take any number of forms: a few long stories, an ongoing series of shorter stories, text, radio, video or more. Please tell us why this coverage will be crucial to your audience, any similar coverage that has been done before it, why this project has particular urgency now and a plan for executing the work. Please also explain why your area and your newsroom are the right places to tell this particular story.
The reporter whom you ideally envision spearheading the work and the market salary you would need to pay this person for 2020. This could be someone already on staff or someone else — for example, a freelancer with whom you aspire to work. Please include a personal statement by the reporter explaining his or her interest, at least three clips and, of course, a resume.
Freelancers are also welcome to apply, but they must find a news organization willing to publish their work and submit a joint application.
ProPublica reporters and editors are available to give you feedback on your idea before you apply. You can send your proposals to Local.Reporting@propublica.org and someone will get back to you within a few days. Entries will be judged principally by ProPublica editors. Winning proposals will be announced in late fall to enable work to begin on Jan. 2.