July 9, 2019

ProPublica Illinois and ProPublica Earn Three NABJ Salute to Excellenc...

Three projects from ProPublica Illinois and ProPublica were named finalists for the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards.

The Driven Into Debt series, begun by ProPublica Illinois and continued in partnership with WBEZ Chicago, received a nomination in the Digital Media - Online News Project category. The investigation revealed that Chicago’s parking ticket system has been driving motorists into bankruptcy through fines and fees that unfairly target majority-black neighborhoods and people who can least afford to pay. The reporting led to a number of policy proposals and reforms, including city officials agreeing to refund or dismiss 35,000 duplicate citations and calls for action from Chicago mayoral election candidates. ProPublica Illinois reporter Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ Chicago’s digital editor Elliott Ramos collaborated on the series, with contributions from ProPublica Illinois news applications developer David Eads and former data reporter Sandhya Kambhampati.

ProPublica’s Miseducation was also nominated in the Digital Media - Online News Project category. The online news application allows users across the country to look up racial disparities in education opportunity and school discipline for more than 96,000 schools and 17,000 districts using data from the 2015-16 school year. The many local stories informed by the Miseducation database included examinations of the history of segregation and resistance to integration in Charlottesville, Virginia, and how discrimination has fueled high school dropouts on a Montana reservation. Eads, ProPublica reporter Annie Waldman, news applications developer Lena V. Groeger and New York Times correspondent Erica L. Green collaborated on the project.

I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother,” an investigative narrative about a fatal police shooting in Weirton, West Virginia, was named a finalist in the Digital Media - Single Story category. Written by ProPublica senior editor Joe Sexton and published in partnership with The Frontline Dispatch, the story highlights how police officer Stephen Mader opted to defuse a tense situation rather than shooting a young man, and the surprising ramifications of his decision.

ProPublica Illinois reporting fellow Lakeidra Chavis was also nominated in the Radio News Series Category (Top 15 Markets) for “Chicago’s Black Communities Hit Hardest in Opioid Overdoses.” The story, which aired while she worked at WBEZ Chicago before joining ProPublica Illinois, highlighted how the opioid epidemic deeply affects African Americans in the city, even as most narratives about the crisis have focused on white, suburban areas. WBEZ Chicago senior news editor Rob Wildeboer also contributed to the project.

For a full list of finalists and to learn more about the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards, visit nabj.org.

July 9, 2019

ProPublica Adds Four Reporters to Its Washington News Staff...

ProPublica announced on Tuesday that reporters Akilah Johnson, Lizzie Presser, Mike Spies and Maryam Jameel will be joining its Washington, D.C., team this summer.

Johnson and Presser will focus on narrative policy stories on health care while Spies will be investigating federal agencies. Jameel, the Washington newsroom’s engagement reporter, will work to mobilize communities around civic issues and use their input to hold officials to account.

Akilah Johnson just completed a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship, focusing on the ways news organizations can improve access and credibility in underserved communities. She comes to ProPublica after eight years with The Boston Globe, most recently as a reporter covering politics and immigration. Her work on the Globe’s Spotlight Team investigation, “Boston. Racism. Image. Reality,” exploring the city’s fraught history of race relations was named a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting. Johnson was also part of the Globe’s reporting team covering the Boston Marathon bombing, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news. Previously, she was an education reporter for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as a Metpro fellow and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Lizzie Presser is currently a contributing reporter for ProPublica. She was previously a contributing writer for The California Sunday Magazine, where her work spanned a wide range of social justice and labor issues, including how barriers to high-quality, clinical abortions have led many women to choose home abortions instead; the human toll of deportation on the U.S.-born children who are left behind; and the brutal exploitation of cruise ship workers. Presser has also written for The Guardian, This American Life, The Independent and elsewhere. She has twice been recognized as a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Livingston Award.

Mike Spies is a senior reporter for The Trace, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the U.S. Over the past four years, he has produced deep, high-impact investigative projects focusing on the gun lobby, including his 2017 series, “The Gunfighters,” examining the unchecked influence of the NRA. Spies has been recognized as a finalist for the Livingston Award, and his work on the NRA won the 2019 New York Press Club Award for continuing coverage. Before The Trace, Spies was a senior reporter for Vocativ. His byline has appeared in The New Yorker, Politico Magazine and Rolling Stone, among other publications.

Maryam Jameel comes to ProPublica from The Center for Public Integrity, where she has reported on workers’ rights since 2014. Her most recent stories have focused on racial discrimination in U.S. workplaces and enforcement of the Civil Rights Act’s employment protections. Jameel’s previous reporting has dug into toxic workplace exposures, wage theft by federal contractors and other topics. She has also been a freelance contributor to NPR’s Latino USA and worked for Al Jazeera English, public radio station KQED and StoryCorps.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Akilah, Mike, Maryam and Lizzie to ProPublica’s D.C. reporting team as we double down on our Washington coverage,” senior editor Marilyn Thompson said. “They bring an outstanding record of innovative, compelling journalism that will be key in helping us break through the noise, especially in the run-up to 2020, as we dig into the federal government and the important accountability stories that need to be told.”

July 8, 2019

ProPublica Is Expanding Its Local Reporting Network to Youngstown, Ohi...

ProPublica announced Monday that it will immediately open up a spot in its Local Reporting Network for a local news organization to cover accountability issues in Youngstown, Ohio, after the region’s only daily newspaper, The Vindicator, announced it will close at the end of next month.

Under the program, which currently works with 20 local partners across the country, ProPublica pays the salary and a stipend for benefits so news organizations can devote a full-time reporter to work on an accountability journalism project for a year. ProPublica also offers editing support, as well as data, research, engagement, audience and production/design assistance.

“What’s going on in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley cries out for solid investigative reporting,” said Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica’s editor in chief. “We created the Local Reporting Network to fill that critically important need.”

News organizations and reporters interested in applying for the Youngstown reporting spot should fill out this form and describe what they plan to investigate. Applications are due by July 22. The news organization we select will receive funding for the salary and benefits of a full-time reporter through June 2020. (Freelance reporters can apply, but they need to secure the backing of an Ohio-based news organization willing to run their work.)

The news unfolding in Youngstown and its surrounding area, which has a population of more than 500,000, requires journalistic attention, Engelberg said.

General Motors recently closed its plant in neighboring Lordstown, which made the Chevrolet Cruze, and eliminated as many as 1,700 hourly positions. An electric vehicle startup has been in talks to buy the plant, but a deal hasn’t been finalized. The plant’s closure is expected to have broad effects, including on small parts manufacturers that relied on the GM facility for work.

Youngstown is also struggling with the quality of its school system, which was taken over by the state in 2015. A review last year by the Ohio Department of Education found that the district remains severely challenged, failing key metrics for educating kids.

Youngstown was the hometown of James Traficant, who was expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives after he was convicted of racketeering, bribery and fraud. He died in 2014. The area’s current congressman, Rep. Tim Ryan, is running for president.

ProPublica is no stranger to Youngstown. In 2012, ProPublica and Engelberg worked with The News Outlet at Youngstown State University to provide advice on investigative projects. Engelberg visited the campus and conducted weekly video calls with reporters and editors to provide ongoing advice. The reporters worked on stories about charter schools, lobbying conflicts by a member of the state school board and nursing home abuse.

The impact of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network has been felt widely.

In Indiana last year, the South Bend Tribune, working with ProPublica senior reporter Ken Armstrong, reported on how police officers in Elkhart, Indiana, beat a handcuffed man and about how the police chief promoted officers despite records of discipline. As a result of those articles, the police chief was forced to resign, an independent investigation was launched and the officers were criminally charged. The mayor of Elkhart also abandoned his reelection effort.

This year, WNYC, another LRN partner, 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.

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.

In Rhode Island, The Public’s Radio reported how 911 call takers were not trained to provide CPR instructions by phone and about people who died after those call takers failed to provide proper guidance. The state legislature is poised to add money for training in the coming year’s budget.

And MLK50, a nonprofit news organization in Memphis, Tennessee, reported on how the largest hospital system sued and garnished the wages of thousands of poor patients, including its own employees, for unpaid medical debts. Within days, the hospital suspended the lawsuits and said it would reevaluate its financial assistance and collections policies.

Again, applications are due by July 22. Questions should be sent to local.reporting@propublica.org.

July 3, 2019

Meet the Data Institute Class of 2019

Noah Arroyo (@noah_arroyo) is the assistant editor at the San Francisco Public Press, where he covers housing and homelessness. His work ranges from the explanatory to the investigative and often takes a data-driven approach.

Ko Bragg (@keaux_) is a Mississippi-based journalist with a focus on kids behind bars and other criminal justice issues. She is an investigative fellow with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and has published work with Scalawag magazine and The Appeal.

Daphne Duret (@dd_writes) is an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. She began her journalism career at the Miami Herald, and she previously worked at the Chicago Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Daphne has spent her career primarily covering crime and courts. She was born in Chicago to Haitian parents and speaks French, Creole and Spanish.

Bracey Harris (@braceyharris) is a K-12 education reporter in Mississippi for the Clarion Ledger. When she’s not squeezing into classroom desks, Bracey focuses on government accountability for the paper’s investigative and enterprise team. A Mississippi native, Bracey studied journalism at the University of Mississippi.

John Hernandez (@johnhrnndz) is a fellow and research assistant for APM Reports in St. Paul, Minnesota. He works on producing audio documentaries about childhood literacy and the racial climate on college campuses. John is also producing his first podcast episode for “Educate” and is proud to have read hundreds of pages of court transcripts for “In the Dark” at APM Reports. John has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas State University.

Joe Hong (@jjshong5) is the education reporter for The Desert Sun, a newspaper in Palm Springs, California. Previously, he covered race and equity issues in higher education at Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Joe has a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia Journalism School.

Esmy Jimenez (@esmyjimenez) is the immigration reporter for KUOW in Seattle. Before joining public media, she had stops as a legal assistant, Alaskan farmhand and state park employee in the California redwoods. Esmy is a University of Southern California graduate, an NPR Next Gen alum and a Maynard Institute fellow. She was born in Mexico and raised in rural Washington.

Rashah McChesney (@litmuslens) covers energy and environmental policy for KTOO Public Media at Alaska’s Energy Desk, a regional journalism collaboration of public media and print reporters in Alaska. She also regularly collaborates with the Polish photojournalism collective Testigo. Born and raised in Texas, she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University, where she specialized in visual communications.

Hurubie Meko (@HurubieLNP) is a Steinman Fellow at Lancaster Newspaper and LancasterOnline. Based out of Lancaster City, she works as a general assignment reporter covering issues that impact all of Lancaster County. She graduated from American University’s School of Communication.

Gwen Pepin (@Missgsp) is a workshop facilitator, reporter and social media manager for the Westside Media Project, a Chicago-based nonprofit that teaches civic engagement, journalism and digital media skills to inner-city youth of color. She started with WMP as a middle schooler who liked to write and was interested in her community. Ten years later, she’s a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who still feels passionate about reaching fellow Westsiders through storytelling and technology.

Edward G. Robinson III (@EdwardGRobinso9) is a lecturer at Morgan State University. He is a co-adviser of the student paper, The Spokesman. Before joining Morgan, he worked as a sports reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he covered collegiate athletics. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

Miacel Spotted Elk (@MiacelSelk) is committed to a career in investigative journalism and covering the vital matters within the American West and Indian Country. Currently, she is interning at City Weekly, an award-winning independent weekly, and reporting for the Daily Utah Chronicle. Miacel grew up near Bears Ears and is a Salt Lake City resident. In 2021, she will graduate from the University of Utah with a degree in political science.

June 28, 2019

ProPublica’s Age Discrimination Series Wins Gerald Loeb Award...

ProPublica’s Peter Gosselin and Ariana Tobin, in partnership with Vox’s Ranjani Chakraborty, have won a Gerald Loeb Award in beat reporting for their series investigating age discrimination in the workplace. The project explored, in new detail and specificity, how employers were shedding older workers, as well as the toll these tactics were taking on the lives of those in their 40s, 50s and beyond.

Prompted by information submitted by thousands of people responding to their online callout, Gosselin and Tobin specifically focused on the practices of IBM and found that the company had eliminated more than 20,000 of its American employees, ages 40 and over, in the last five years. Among their key findings: IBM had created a point system that targeted later-career workers for layoffs, even when they had been top performers; it demanded that other longtime employees move to keep their jobs, knowing full well many would quit; and in some cases, workers forced out of full-time permanent positions were brought back as contractors at lower rates of pay. In response to their reporting, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal watchdog that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, launched a nationwide investigation of age bias at IBM.

Learn more about the Gerald Loeb Awards here.

June 18, 2019

ProPublica Wins Two Edward R. Murrow Awards

The Radio Television Digital News Association has named ProPublica the winner of two Edward R. Murrow Awards. The national competition, among the most prestigious in journalism, recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast and digital news.

ProPublica’s “Zero Tolerance” audio won in the Excellence in Sound category for Small Digital News Organizations. Published one year ago today, the secret recording from inside an immigrant detention center captured the unmistakable sounds of children sobbing and begging for their parents after being separated from their families at the Mexican border. The tape immediately broke through the partisan din and led to a massive public outcry. Within 48 hours, the president signed an executive order to reverse his policy of separating families and a federal judge in California ordered that parents and children be reunited within 30 days.

Unprotected,” ProPublica’s first full-length feature film, was named best News Documentary in the Small Digital News Organization division. The project explored how the American charity More Than Me pledged to save some of Liberia’s most vulnerable girls from sexual exploitation — gaining international plaudits and millions of dollars in donations in the process. But from the beginning, girls as young as 10 were being raped by one of the nonprofit’s key leaders. The charity then misled donors and the public about what happened and failed to safeguard all the perpetrator’s possible victims even once they knew he had AIDS when he died.

The film, distributed for free online, was key to bringing this story to the right audiences in Liberia, where literacy rates are low, and led to swift, meaningful impact on the ground. After publication, the charity apologized to the victims, for the first time, conceding it had failed them. More Than Me announced schoolwide HIV testing; several board members resigned, including the charity’s founder, Katie Meyler; and the Liberian government announced a multi-agency inquiry.

You can see a full list of Murrow Awards winners on the RTDNA site.

June 7, 2019

ProPublica Names 6 More Newsrooms to Its Local Reporting Network...

ProPublica named six newsrooms and local reporters on Friday that will participate in the latest expansion of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, a program aimed at supporting investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations. The projects, which will begin on July 1 and continue for a year, are supported by a grant from the Abrams Foundation.

Through the program, participating reporters will collaborate with ProPublica senior editor Zahira Torres as they embark on investigative journalism within their communities. ProPublica reimburses one year’s salary and benefits for each of the participating reporters and also supports projects with its expertise in data, research and engagement elements of the work.

The ProPublica Local Reporting Network kicked off in January 2018 with projects at seven news organizations across the country. The program expanded to 14 newsrooms this January and, with the addition of these six projects, will reach 20.

The newsrooms selected for the expansion were chosen from a pool of 138 applications from 42 states as well as the District of Columbia. Topics will include health care, tribal schools, housing, correctional facilities and environmental regulation.

“I am excited to work with these newsrooms to realize their ambitious visions for local journalism,” Torres said. “We reviewed a highly competitive field of applications and we’re delighted to work on this diverse range of important projects.”

The selected newsrooms and reporters are:

  • The Arizona Republic, Alden Woods
  • The Capital (Annapolis, Maryland), Danielle Ohl
  • The Frontier (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Brianna Bailey
  • Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, R.G. Dunlop
  • Miami Herald, Carol Marbin Miller
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting, Tony Schick

“The Local Reporting Network has already exceeded our high expectations for it,” said Charles Ornstein, a deputy managing editor at ProPublica who oversees the network. “The stories are resonating deeply in their communities and prompting real change. We are confident these new projects will do the same.”

Projects from this year’s Local Reporting Network have exposed the serious harms caused by California’s shift of inmates from state prisons to county jails, the vast swaths of Alaska that have no local law enforcement officers, and how wealthy towns in Connecticut have fought to keep affordable housing out. A project about how Rhode Island’s 911 operators are unprepared to handle cardiac arrest calls has led to the removal of the head of the state 911 system and a budget proposal to increase training for 911 call takers. Another project about a tax incentive program in New Jersey has caused the state to freeze a $260 million tax break for Holtec International, an energy company that built its new headquarters on the Camden waterfront.

Projects from the inaugural ProPublica Local Reporting Network in 2018 exposed lapses in worker safety at nuclear facilities; failures in public housing; conflicts of interest that have allowed Louisiana legislators to benefit themselves, their relatives and their clients; and the devastating toll of post-traumatic stress disorder on first responders. An investigation from the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, which uncovered shocking misconduct by Elkhart County police, prompted the police chief to resign and the Elkhart mayor to announce an independent review of the city’s Police Department, in addition to a federal grand jury indictment of two Elkhart police officers on civil rights charges. The series was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. A project by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, exploring the price paid by West Virginia residents as the natural gas industry gains power, was a finalist for the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for environmental reporting.

June 5, 2019

Two New Editors Join ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network...

ProPublica announced on Wednesday that it has hired two editors, Zahira Torres and Michael J. Mishak, to help oversee its Local Reporting Network, a growing initiative to support investigative journalism at local and regional newsrooms across the country.

Zahira Torres will serve as editor of the six additional journalists joining ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network on July 1. She is currently the editor of the El Paso Times and enterprise editor for USA Today Network’s Texas/New Mexico newspapers. During her tenure, Torres was part of a team that developed and edited “The Wall: Untold Stories, Unintended Consequences,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. Torres began her career at the Times while attending college and was named capitol bureau chief in 2009. She then worked as an education reporter for The Denver Post and Los Angeles Times before returning to her El Paso roots to lead the paper’s investigations and eventually be promoted to editor, becoming the first Latina to hold the title.

Michael J. Mishak comes to ProPublica from Newsweek, where he was deputy editor. He will take over the state government group of the Local Reporting Network, currently overseen by Marilyn Thompson, as she transitions into her new role as senior editor of ProPublica’s Washington, D.C., newsroom. Mishak was previously an investigative reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, where his work examining the financial ties between state insurance commissioners and the companies they regulate was a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award. He’s also worked as a staff writer for the Las Vegas Sun, The Associated Press, National Journal and Los Angeles Times and is a co-director of Princeton University’s Summer Journalism Program, an annual journalism and college admissions initiative for low-income high school students.

ProPublica also announced that senior reporter T. Christian Miller will take on new editing responsibilities for two Local Reporting Network projects in addition to his current work investigating the Navy. Miller was one of the first reporters ProPublica hired when it launched in 2008 and has spearheaded some of the newsroom’s most complex and impactful projects, including his reporting with Ken Armstrong (then with The Marshall Project) on why sexual assault cases are so poorly investigated, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

“Building out ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” Deputy Managing Editor Charles Ornstein said. “I’m beyond thrilled to welcome Zahira, Mike, and T. to the team as we continue to expand our efforts to support vital accountability journalism in the communities that need it most.”

May 30, 2019

Dara Lind and Kirsten Berg Join ProPublica’s D.C. Newsroom...

ProPublica announced Thursday that reporter Dara Lind and research reporter Kirsten Berg will be joining its Washington, D.C., newsroom, under the leadership of senior editor Marilyn Thompson. Other hires are still forthcoming.

As part of the Washington reporting team, Lind and Berg will contribute to ProPublica’s investigative coverage of the federal government and its impact on people’s lives. Lind will also continue as a co-host of Vox’s policy podcast, The Weeds.

Dara Lind comes to ProPublica from Vox, where she worked since its 2014 launch, most recently as a senior reporter covering immigration. She is one of the country’s leading immigration reporters, and her work has included exclusive stories on the mechanics of the Trump administration’s asylum ban, the Department of Homeland Security’s use of an erroneous statistic to justify family separations at the border and the first-known arrest and detention of a DACA recipient while waiting for final renewal. Lind has used explainers, human interest features and podcasts to help people understand how policy affects their lives.

Kirsten Berg is currently the associate editor of Future Tense, a partnership between Slate, New America and Arizona State University, which explores the intersection of technology and public policy. Prior to that, Berg was at the New America Foundation as a research assistant and deputy director of its fellows program. She’s also worked at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and PBS Frontline, and she was formerly an intern at ProPublica. Among other honors, Berg was a finalist for the Livingston Award for her reporting on juvenile life without parole in Massachusetts.

“We’re truly delighted to welcome Kirsten and Dara to our Washington team,” Thompson said. “Both reporters have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to uncovering injustice and holding those in power to account. They’ll make excellent additions to our newsroom as we pursue stories in the public interest.”

May 23, 2019

ProPublica Wins Two Deadline Club Awards

The New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced on Monday that ProPublica won two Deadline Club Awards, which recognize the best work produced by journalists and news organizations in the area.

ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and The New York Times’ Katie Thomas won in the Business Investigative Reporting category for their series Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Crisis. The project uncovered widespread financial conflicts of interest at Memorial Sloan Kettering, an iconic New York institution, and led to a cascade of reforms not just at the hospital but at leading cancer centers and medical journals across the country. Most notably, within days of publishing their story on how Sloan Kettering’s top medical officer, Dr. José Baselga, failed to disclose the millions of dollars he’d received from drug and health care companies, Baselga was forced to resign from the hospital. He also later resigned from the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Right to Fail, an investigation by ProPublica’s Joaquin Sapien and PBS Frontline’s Tom Jennings, won in the Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting category. The series examined how New York’s ambitious effort to move hundreds of people with mental illness from group homes to their own supported housing apartments has sometimes proven perilous, even deadly. Sapien and Jennings found at least six questionable deaths and identified more than two dozen cases in which people in supported housing were not able to care for themselves, leaving them in unsafe or inhumane living conditions.

See a list of all the 2019 Deadline Club Award winners here.

May 17, 2019

Five ProPublica Projects Named Finalists for Loeb Awards...

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has named five ProPublica projects as finalists for this year’s Gerald Loeb Awards, one of the most prestigious prizes in business and financial journalism.

The finalists include Trump, Inc., ProPublica and WNYC’s joint podcast exploring the mysteries of the president’s businesses — what deals are happening and who might be profiting from his administration — in the audio category.

An investigation into age discrimination, by Peter Gosselin, Ariana Tobin and Ranjani Chakraborty, of Vox, is a finalist in beat reporting. The series showed how IBM, in its scramble to compete with new rivals, has cut swaths of its most senior employees — flouting rules against age bias.

Marshall Allen’s ongoing series, Health Insurance Hustle, is a finalist in the explanatory category. Co-published with NPR Shots, Allen’s reporting exposed the confounding ways insurers game their profits: using hidden schemes, side deals and fees that drive up costs.

Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Crisis, a collaboration between ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and The New York Times’ Katie Thomas, is a finalist in local reporting. Their investigation uncovered multiple conflicts of interest between the renowned New York hospital’s staff and health care companies, ultimately leading to the resignation of the hospital’s chief medical officer.

ProPublica’s first full-length feature film, Unprotected, is a finalist in the video category. The documentary, in partnership with Time, examined how the acclaimed American charity More Than Me rose to fame for saving vulnerable girls in Liberia from sexual exploitation. But from the beginning, girls were being raped by one of the nonprofit’s key leaders, provoking international discussion about the lack of accountability for charities working abroad.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in June. See the full list of finalists here.

May 17, 2019

ProPublica Builds Washington News Staff With Three Journalists...

ProPublica announced Friday three additions to its expanding reporting team on the federal government. J. David McSwane and Yeganeh Torbati are joining ProPublica’s Washington office as reporters, and Moiz Syed will work from New York as a news applications developer. Other hires for the D.C. office will be coming.

“We could not be more thrilled with this lineup of journalists,” Marilyn Thompson, senior editor for Washington coverage, said. “With their track records of aggressively digging into the work of government and landing revelatory stories, we’re off to a great start as we expand our reporting on crucial policy decisions and their impact on people’s lives.”

J. David McSwane has been an investigative reporter at the Dallas Morning News since 2015, where he led investigations from the Texas Capitol. His reporting on the state’s outsourced Medicaid system, which benefited companies that systematically deny care to sick children and disabled adults, spurred multiple legislative reforms. Another investigation, exposing that state caseworkers were not checking on tens of thousands of abused children, prompted lawmakers to invest millions to hire and retain more caseworkers to examine reports of abuse and neglect. McSwane previously covered state government for the Austin American-Statesman and served as a reporter and deputy projects editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In addition to winning this year’s Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize, he has been honored with the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting, a Scripps Howard Award and a Peabody Award.

Yeganeh Torbati comes to ProPublica from Reuters, which she first joined in 2011, most recently covering immigration. Torbati was the first to reveal in 2018 the Trump administration’s detailed plans to penalize foreigners who use public benefits by making it harder for them to get green cards, and her narrative feature about a library on the U.S.-Canada border that played host to reunions of families separated by the travel ban was adapted for a segment on “This American Life.” In her previous role as a national security reporter for Reuters, she and colleagues exclusively obtained State Department cables in March 2017 detailing the Trump administration’s implementation of “extreme vetting,” and as an Iran reporter she co-led the news organization’s coverage during the country’s domestic political crisis, nuclear negotiations and international sanctions. Among other honors, Torbati’s work has won a National Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ Best in Business Award.

Moiz Syed is a data journalist, designer and developer who, before joining ProPublica, worked at The Intercept. His interactive map in a co-reported story on how toxic firefighting foam is contaminating U.S. drinking water was later used by the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of a team that obtained reports from the Department of Homeland Security, including 1,224 sexual assault complaints from people under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, he helped reveal a staggering pattern of abuse against women held at immigration detention centers, and his work tracking international terrorism prosecutions since the 9/11 attacks revealed that most of those prosecuted never committed a violent act. He also previously worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, leading projects to improve Wikipedia’s search and mobile user experience.