ProPublica expands reporting network to increase coverage of state governments

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ProPublica announced Wednesday that it is inviting more news organizations to participate in its Local Reporting Network, which is expanding to focus on accountability journalism covering state governments.

The investigative news nonprofit is expanding the network after partnering with an initial group of seven newsrooms, including WMFE in Orlando, Fla. Selected reporters work in and report to their home newsrooms while receiving support and guidance from ProPublica. Both ProPublica and their home organizations publish their work.

Through the partnership, WMFE’s Abe Aboraya has reported on the toll of post-traumatic stress disorder on first responders, who in Florida were previously unable to take paid leave if they were affected by PTSD while on the job. The Florida legislature passed a bill earlier this year that changed the law, though it did not cover those who were previously diagnosed.

ProPublica will pay salaries and allowances for benefits for the reporters at seven partner news organizations under the new two-year grant. Reporters will collaborate with a ProPublica senior editor and have access to the organization’s expertise with data, research and engagement.

The effort aims to address the steep decline in reporters working in state capitals. “Reporters focused on state government are critically important for holding elected officials accountable and leveling the playing field between special interests and the public,” ProPublica President Richard Tofel said in the release. “We are delighted to expand the ProPublica Local Reporting Network to support local reporters and newsrooms who bring much needed sunlight to the dealings of state government.”

Applications are due Sept. 14. Selected reporters will begin their work Jan. 2 and spend one year tackling an investigative project focused on state government or politics.

The latest effort does not take the place of the original Local Reporting Network, ProPublica said. The organization plans to solicit proposals this fall for the second year of the general local reporting initiative and will select up to 14 reporting partners. National news organizations are not eligible to apply.

Read more about the expansion.

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