ProPublica will support an investigative reporter in Youngstown, Ohio as its only daily newspaper, The Vindicator, prepares to close at the end of August. The Vindicator has 100,000 readers a day.
The reporter will be part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, which the nonprofit journalism organization first introduced in 2017 to provide monetary support to investigative reporters at local news organizations.
In the past 15 years, 1,800 newspapers have shuttered. About 200 counties have no local newspaper, and roughly half the counties in the country have only one, according to a University of North Carolina study.
Bloomberg reported last week that about 3,000 people have been laid off or offered buyouts in the first five months of 2019.
Outlets have reported that 144 employees and approximately 250 carriers will lose their jobs when The Vindicator shutters.
“What’s going on in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley cries out for solid investigative reporting. We created the Local Reporting Network to fill that critically important need,” stated ProPublica editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg.
ProPublica's Local Reporting Network program pays the salary for one full-time investigative reporter, as well as offers editing support, data, research, engagement, audience and production/design assistance.
The Local Reporting Network currently works with 20 news partners across the country. The program lasts one year.
The news unfolding in the Youngstown area, which has a population of more than 500,000, requires journalistic attention, Engelberg stated.
Some examples ProPublica gives: The General Motors plant in neighboring Lordstown, which recently closed and eliminated as many as 1,700 hourly positions. Also, a review last year by the Ohio Department of Education found the Youngstown school district fails key metrics for educating children.
The Maag-Brown family has owned The Vindicator for over 130 years.
The Maag-Browns spent last year looking for a buyer to run The Vindicator, but were “unsuccessful,” they stated.
News organizations and reporters interested in applying for the Youngstown reporting spot can fill out a form and describe what they plan to investigate. Freelance reporters can also apply, but must find an Ohio-based news outlet that will run their work.
The application deadline is July 22.