Some of the biggest casualties of the media industry's digital disruption are local newspapers, but ProPublica is swooping in to try and alleviate the economic pressures. The nonprofit journalism organization debuted an initiative to provide monetary support to investigative reporters at local news organizations, called the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.
“Over the past several years, economic pressures have reduced the ability of local and regional news organizations to support accountability reporting,” the organization noted on its site in a post introducing the new initiative. “That’s a challenge not just for journalism, but also for our democracy. We’re committed to helping address that problem.”
ProPublica will pay the salary (and a benefits allowance) for one full-time investigative reporter at up to six news organizations, in cities with populations below 1 million. The reporter will continue to report to their home newsroom, but will receive “extensive guidance and support” from ProPublica.
Their work will be published by both their home newsroom and ProPublica.
The organization says the funding comes from a new three-year, $3 million grant from an individual donor who has asked to remain anonymous.
ProPublica is asking interested newsrooms to send in a proposal detailing the investigative project and the reporter they hope to spearhead the work. Newsrooms can apply with their own reporters or freelancers and can pitch the story for any platform. There is no quota for the number of stories produced during the year-long project.
The deadline for applications is November 3.
As examples of similar successful initiatives, ProPublica cited its new ProPublica Illinois project, the organization’s first regional newsroom founded this year, as well as a collaboration it launched two years ago with the New York Daily News.
A Daily News reporter was working on a project about the NYPD abusing nuisance abatement laws and kicking people out of their homes, a series supported by ProPublica. The stories ultimately won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for public service. As a result of the reporting, the New York City Council passed 13 reform bills this year.
“That’s exactly the kind of impact we aspire to, and that we believe can happen working collaboratively,” ProPublica stated.