ProPublica announced the six reporters from public radio stations who have been selected to participate in its Local Reporting Network. This new cycle of the local reporting initiative, which begins on Sept. 1 and will continue for a year, is dedicated to accountability journalism by public broadcasting organizations and supported by a grant from the Abrams Foundation.
Through the program, local broadcast newsrooms will collaborate with ProPublica senior editor Zahira Torres for investigative projects within their communities. ProPublica will reimburse one year’s salary and benefits for each of the participating reporters and support their projects with expertise in data, research, engagement and audience elements of the work.
“As local newsrooms across the country continue to experience cutbacks, public radio serves an increasingly important role in informing communities,” Torres said. “We need accountability reporting at the local level now more than ever. I look forward to working with these newsrooms to support their ambitious projects.”
The selected newsrooms and reporters are:
- KPCC/LAist (Los Angeles), Emily Elena Dugdale
- KUCB and CoastAlaska (Unalaska, Alaska), Zoë Sobel
- Nashville Public Radio, Meribah Knight
- Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland), Tony Schick
- VPM (Richmond, Virginia), Megan Pauly
- WRKF and WWNO (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and New Orleans), Richard A. Webster
Topics covered, among others, will include criminal justice, racial injustice, the environment, safety and education.
The ProPublica Local Reporting Network, introduced to help create vital investigative journalism in communities where these stories would otherwise not be done, has worked with more than 40 newsrooms since 2018, including a number of public radio stations, such as WNYC in New York; WBEZ in Chicago; The Public’s Radio in Providence, Rhode Island; WMFE in Orlando, Florida; NPR Illinois in Springfield; and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland.
This work has spurred significant impact. In Rhode Island, The Public’s Radio reported on 911 call takers who were not trained to provide CPR instructions and people who died after those call takers failed to give proper guidance. The state legislature added money for training to the state budget, and the project won the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award in the radio/podcast category. WNYC reported on how a company in Camden, New Jersey, provided a false answer on an application for tax breaks, leading the state to freeze the tax break pending further investigation. NPR Illinois investigated how the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had helped several professors retain seemingly unblemished records even though they were found to have violated its sexual misconduct policy. The reporting prompted the university to end the use of confidentiality clauses when professors are fired and change policy to prevent faculty and administrators from arguing that academic freedom shields them in sexual misconduct cases.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. With a team of more than 100 dedicated journalists, ProPublica covers a range of topics, focusing on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Its reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. Since it began publishing in 2008, ProPublica has received six Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards and eight George Polk Awards, among others.