Last updated

ProPublica logo.svg
Founded2007;13 years ago (2007)
Type 501(c)(3)
Focus Investigative journalism
Area served
United States
Key people
Paul Steiger, Executive Chairman
Herbert Sandler, Founding Chairman
Stephen Engelberg, Editor-in-Chief
Richard Tofel, President,
Robin Fields, Managing Editor
> 100 [1]
Alexa rank18,909 (June 2019) [2]
Current statusActive

ProPublica is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It is a newsroom that aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest. [3] In 2010, it became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize, for a piece [4] written by one of its journalists [5] [6] and published in The New York Times Magazine [7] as well as on [8] ProPublica states that its investigations are conducted by its staff of full-time investigative reporters, and the resulting stories are distributed to news partners for publication or broadcast. In some cases, reporters from both ProPublica and its partners work together on a story. ProPublica has partnered with more than 90 different news organizations, and it has won five Pulitzer Prizes.



ProPublica was the brainchild of Herbert and Marion Sandler, the former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation, who have committed $10 million a year to the project. [9] The Sandlers hired Paul Steiger, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal , to create and run the organization as editor in chief. At the time ProPublica was set up, Steiger responded to concerns about the role of the political views of the Sandlers, saying on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer :

Coming into this, when I talked to Herb and Marion Sandler, one of my concerns was precisely this question of independence and nonpartisanship ... My history has been doing "down the middle" reporting. And so when I talked to Herb and Marion I said "Are you comfortable with that?" They said, "Absolutely." I said, "Well, suppose we did an exposé of some of the left leaning organizations that you have supported or that are friendly to what you've supported in the past."They said, "No problem." And when we set up our organizational structure, the board of directors, on which I sit and which Herb is the chairman, does not know in advance what we're going to report on. [10]

ProPublica had an initial news staff of 28 reporters and editors, [11] including Pulitzer Prize winners Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber, Jeff Gerth, and Marcus Stern, but has since grown to 34 full-time working journalists. Steiger claimed that he received as many as 850 applications [12] upon ProPublica's start. The organization also appointed a 12-member journalism advisory board consisting of professional journalists.

The newsgroup shares its work under the Creative Commons no-derivative, non-commercial license. [13]

On August 5, 2015, Yelp announced a partnership with the company to help improve their healthcare statistics. [14]


While the Sandler Foundation provided ProPublica with significant financial support, it also has received funding from the Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. [15] ProPublica and the Knight Foundation have various connections. For example, Paul Steiger, executive chairman of ProPublica, is a trustee of the Knight Foundation. [16] In like manner, Alberto Ibarguen, the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation is on the board of ProPublica. [17]

ProPublica has attracted attention for the salaries it pays its employees. [18] [19] In 2008, Paul Steiger, the editor of ProPublica, received a salary of $570,000. [20] Steiger was formerly the managing editor at The Wall Street Journal , where his total compensation (including options [20] ) was double that at ProPublica. [21] Steiger's stated strategy is to use a Wall Street Journal pay model to attract journalistic talent. [22] In 2010, eight ProPublica employees made more than $160,000, including managing editor Stephen Engelberg ($343,463) and the highest-paid reporter, Dafna Linzer, formerly of the Washington Post ($205,445). [23]

Engelberg is a former New York Times editor who co-wrote the non-fiction book Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War , with Times reporter Judith Miller.


In 2010, ProPublica jointly won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting (it also was awarded to another news organization for a different story) for "The Deadly Choices at Memorial", "a story that chronicles the urgent life-and-death decisions made by one hospital's exhausted doctors when they were cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina." [24] It was written by ProPublica's Sheri Fink and published in The New York Times Magazine [7] as well as on [8] This was the first Pulitzer awarded to an online news source. [5] [6] The article also won the 2010 National Magazine Award for Reporting. [25]

In 2011, ProPublica won its second Pulitzer Prize. [26] Reporters Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for their series, The Wall Street Money Machine. This was the first time a Pulitzer was awarded to a group of stories not published in print.

In 2016, ProPublica won its third Pulitzer Prize, this time for Explanatory Reporting, in collaboration with The Marshall Project for "a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement's enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims." [27]

In 2017, ProPublica and the New York Daily News were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a series of reports on the use of eviction rules by the New York City Police Department. [28] [29] [30]

In 2019, Peabody Awards honored ProPublica with the first-ever Peabody Catalyst Award for releasing audio in 2018 that brought immediate change to a controversial government practice of family separation at the southern border. [31]

Also in 2019, ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her series that followed immigrants on Long Island whose lives were shattered by a botched crackdown on MS-13. [32]

In May 2020, ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize in public service for illuminating public safety gaps in Alaska. [33]

Notable reporting and projects

"An Unbelievable Story of Rape"

T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project collaborated on this piece about the process that discovered a serial rapist in Colorado and Washington state. [34] The piece won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. [35] This piece was adapted into the Netflix series Unbelievable . [36]

IRS and conservative groups

In December 2012 and January 2013, ProPublica published and reported on confidential pending applications for groups requesting tax-exempt status. In May 2013, after widespread coverage of allegations that the IRS had inappropriately targeted conservative groups, ProPublica clarified that it obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, writing, "In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public." ProPublica reported on six of them, after deeming information within those applications to be newsworthy. [37]

Psychiatric Solutions

ProPublica conducted a large-scale, circumscribed investigation on Psychiatric Solutions, a company based in Tennessee that buys failing hospitals, cuts staff, and accumulates profit. [38] The report covered patient deaths at numerous Psychiatric Solutions facilities, the failing physical plant at many of their facilities, and covered the State of Florida's first closure of Manatee Palms Youth Services, which has since been shut down [39] by Florida officials once again. [40] Their report was published in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times .

Documenting Hate

In 2017, ProPublica launched the Documenting Hate project for systematic tracking of hate crimes and bias incidents. [41] The project is part of their Civil Rights beat, and allows victims or witnesses of hate crime incidents to submit stories. The project also allows journalists and newsrooms to partner with ProPublica to write stories based on the dataset they are collecting. For example, the Minneapolis Star Tribune partnered with ProPublica to write about reporting of hate crimes in Minnesota. [42]

Surgeon Scorecard

In 2015, ProPublica launched Surgeon Scorecard, an interactive database that allows users to view complication rates for eight common elective procedures. The tool allows users to find surgeons and hospitals, and see their complication rates. [43] The database was controversial, drawing criticism from doctors and prompting a critique from RAND. [44] [45] However, statisticians, including Andrew Gelman, stood behind their decision to attempt to shine light on an opaque aspect of the medical field, [46] and ProPublica offered specific rebuttals to RAND's claims. [47]

Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC

This interactive map allows people to search for addresses in New York City, to see the effects of eviction cases. [48] The app was nominated for a Livingston Award. [49]

Board members

Public academic Henry Louis Gates Jr. sits on the board. Henry Louis Gates (14305391283) (cropped).jpg
Public academic Henry Louis Gates Jr. sits on the board.

Related Research Articles

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is a constituent school of Northwestern University that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. It has consistently been ranked one of the top schools of journalism in the United States. Medill alumni include 38 Pulitzer Prize laureates, numerous national correspondents for major networks, and many well-known reporters and columnists. Northwestern is one of the few schools embracing a technological approach towards journalism. Medill received a Knight Foundation grant to establish the Knight News Innovation Laboratory in 2011. The Knight Lab is a joint initiative of Medill and the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern, one of the first to combine journalism and computer science.

Renée Montagne American radio journalist and the current co-host (with Steve Inskeep) of National Public Radios weekday morning newsmagazine, Morning Edition

Renée Montagne is an American radio journalist and was the co-host of National Public Radio's weekday morning news program, Morning Edition, from May 2004 to November 11, 2016. Montagne and Inskeep succeeded longtime host Bob Edwards, initially as interim replacements, and Greene joined the team in 2012. Montagne had served as a correspondent and occasional host since 1989. She usually broadcasts from NPR West in Culver City, California, a Los Angeles suburb.

T. Christian Miller American journalist

T. Christian Miller is an investigative reporter, editor, author, and war correspondent for ProPublica. He has focused on how multinational corporations operate in foreign countries, documenting human rights and environmental abuses. Miller has covered four wars — Kosovo, Colombia, Israel and the West Bank, and Iraq. He also covered the 2000 presidential campaign. He is also known for his work in the field of computer-assisted reporting and was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2012 to study innovation in journalism. In 2016, Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism with Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project. In 2019, he served as a producer of the Netflix limited series Unbelievable, which was based on the prize-winning article.

Daniel Golden American journalist

Daniel Golden is an American journalist, working as a senior editor for ProPublica. He was previously senior editor at Conde Nast's now-defunct Portfolio magazine, and a managing editor for Bloomberg News.

Alberto Ibargüen Puerto Rican/American entrepreneur

Alberto Ibargüen is President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida. He is the former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Florida. Under his leadership, The Miami Herald won three Pulitzer Prizes; El Nuevo Herald won Spain's Ortega y Gasset Prize for excellence in journalism.

Charles Ornstein is an American journalist. He is currently a senior editor for ProPublica specializing in health care issues, including medical quality, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Big Pharma. He is also an adjunct associate professor of journalism at Columbia University.

Sheri Fink American journalist

Sheri Fink is an American journalist who writes about health, medicine and science.

Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter for ProPublica, and frequently works in partnership with the New York Times Magazine. His focus is on the intersection of business, climate and energy.

Ken Armstrong is a senior reporter at ProPublica.

Jesse Eisinger is an American journalist and author. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2011, he currently works as a senior reporter for ProPublica. His first book, The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2017.

James Sandler is an American investigative journalist who was part of the New York Times team that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and on PBS Frontline.

<i>InsideClimate News</i> American website

InsideClimate News is a non-profit news organization, focusing on environmental journalism. The publication writes that it "covers clean energy, carbon energy, nuclear energy and environmental science—plus the territory in between where law, policy and public opinion are shaped."

The Marshall Project is a nonprofit, online journalism organization focusing on issues related to criminal justice in the United States, founded by former hedge fund manager Neil Barsky and with former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller as its first editor-in-chief. Its website states that it aims to "create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system." The organization's name honors Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights activist, NAACP attorney, and first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nikole Hannah-Jones American journalist

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist known for her coverage of civil rights in the United States. In April 2015, she became a staff writer for The New York Times.

Jake Bernstein is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author. He previously worked with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. During a 25-year career, he has covered the civil war in Central America, industrial pollution in Texas, political corruption in Miami, system-crashing greed on Wall Street and the secret world of offshore money. He has written travel pieces, reviewed movies and books and taken his journalism to the radio and TV.

2017 Pulitzer Prize

The 2017 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded by the Pulitzer Prize Board for work during the 2016 calendar year. Prize winners and nominated finalists were announced by Mike Pride at 3:00 p.m. EST April 10, 2017.

Sarah Ryley is an American journalist working as an investigative reporter at The Trace, a non-profit news outlet that covers gun violence in America. Previously, she was an editor and investigative journalist at the New York Daily News. The Daily News and ProPublica were joint recipients of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for Ryley's extensive reporting on the New York Police Department's broken windows policing tactics. Her investigation documented "widespread abuse of eviction rules by the police to oust hundreds of people, most of them poor minorities".

Mark Schoofs is an American journalist and head of the investigative reporting division at BuzzFeed News. He was formerly senior editor at ProPublica from 2011 to 2013, and an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal for over a decade. He previously wrote for The Village Voice, where he won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for an eight-part series on AIDS in Africa. Schoofs graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1985 with a degree in Philosophy, and has taught journalism at Yale. He has been awarded multiple Science Journalism Awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Patricia Callahan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist for ProPublica.

"An Unbelievable Story of Rape" is a 2015 article about a series of rapes in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado that occurred between 2008 and 2011, and the subsequent police investigations. It was a collaboration between two American, non-profit news organizations, The Marshall Project and ProPublica. The article was written by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller. It won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting and the 2015 George Polk Award for Justice Reporting.


  1. ProPublica Staff. Retrieved: June 11, 2019.
  2. "ProPublicaSite Info". Alexa Internet . Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  3. "About Us" . Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  4. "a story that chronicles the urgent life-and-death decisions made by one hospital's exhausted doctors when they were cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina." - The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Investigative Reporting, accessed April 13, 2010
  5. 1 2 The Guardian , April 13, 2010, Pulitzer progress for non-profit news
  6. 1 2 ProPublica, Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting: Deadly Choices at Memorial
  7. 1 2 Sheri Fink, New York Times Magazine , August 25, 2009, The Deadly Choices at Memorial
  8. 1 2 ProPublica, August 27, 2009, The Deadly Choices at Memorial Archived June 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. Pérez-Peña, Richard (October 15, 2007). "Group Plans to Provide Investigative Journalism". New York Times . Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  10. PBS Newshour , 24 June 2008, "Financing Independent Journalism"
  11. Calderone, Michael (July 10, 2008). "ProPublica will hire everyone". Politico.Com. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  12. Hirschman, David S. "So What Do You Do, Paul Steiger, Editor-in-Chief, ProPublica?". Mediabistro. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  13. "Why (and How) We Use Creative Commons for Our Stories". ProPublica. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  14. "Yelp's Consumer Protection Initiative: ProPublica Partnership Brings Medical Info to Yelp - Yelp". August 5, 2015.
  15. Shafer, Jack (October 15, 2007). "What Do Herbert and Marion Sandler Want?". Slate. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  16. "Board of Trustees - Knight Foundation". Knight Foundation.
  17. Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO Archived July 31, 2016, at the Wayback Machine , Knight Foundation
  18. Turner, Zeke. "Shelling Out the Big Bucks at ProPublica | The New York Observer". Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  19. Taylor, Mike (August 10, 2010). "ProPublica's Top-Paid Employees All Made Six Figures in 2009". (FishbowlNY). Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  20. 1 2 "Philanthrocrat of the day, ProPublica edition". Reuters. September 30, 2009.
  21. "Diamonds in the Rough". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  22. Turner, Zeke (August 11, 2010). "Shelling Out the Big Bucks at ProPublica". New York Observer.
  23. "ProPublica's Top-Paid Employees All Made Six Figures in 2009". August 10, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  24. The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Investigative Reporting, accessed April 13, 2010
  25. "National Magazine Award Winners 1966-2015". American Society of Magazine Editors. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  26. "A Note on ProPublica's Second Pulitzer Prize". ProPublica. April 18, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  27. "T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project" . Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  28. "The Pulitzer Prizes: Public Service" . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  29. "The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service" . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  30. "2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners". The New York Times . April 10, 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  31. "Catalyst Award: ProPublica" . Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  32. "The 2019 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Feature Writing" . Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  33. Peltz, Jennifer (May 4, 2020). "'Riveting' coverage of Alaska policing wins Pulitzer Prize". Bangor Daily News.
  34. Miller, T Christian; Armstrong, Ken (December 16, 2015). "An Unbelievable Story of Rape". ProPublica and The Marshall Project.
  35. "T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project". December 16, 2015.
  36. Colburn, Randall (July 18, 2019). "Netflix unveils trailer for Unbelievable, a limited series based on Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting". AV Club.
  37. IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups, Kim Barker and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, May 13, 2013
  38. Jewett, Christina; Robin Fields (November 23, 2008). "Psychiatric care's perils and profits". Los Angeles Times . ProPublica. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  39. Wolfrum, Timothy R. (May 6, 2010). "State slams Manatee Palms psychiatric hospital". The Bradenton Herald . Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  40. "Manatee Palms Youth Services Facility Profile". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  41. Wang, Shan (January 23, 2017). "ProPublica is leading a nationwide effort to document hate crimes, with local and national partners". Nieman Lab . Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  42. Stephen Montemayor (January 23, 2018). "Confusion, varying thresholds keep many Minnesota agencies from reporting hate crime data". StarTribune.
  43. Wei, Sisi; Pierce, Olga; Allen, Marshall (July 15, 2015). "Surgeon Scorecard". ProPublica.
  44. Friedberg M, Pronovost P, Shahian D, Safran D, Bilimoria K, Elliott M, Damberg C, Dimick J, Zaslavsky A (2015). "A Methodological Critique of the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard". Rand Health Quarterly. RAND Corporation. 5 (4): 1. PMC   5158216 . PMID   28083411.
  45. Dougherty, Geoff; Harder, Ben (August 25, 2015). "The U.S. News Take on ProPublica's Surgeon Scorecard". US News.
  46. Andrew Gelman (August 4, 2015). "Pro Publica's New Surgeon Scorecards".
  47. Engelberg, Stephen; Pierce, Olga (October 7, 2015). "Our Rebuttal to RAND's Critique of Surgeon Scorecard". ProPublica.
  48. Wei, Sisi; Groeger, Lena; Podkul, Cezary; Schwencke, Ken (December 15, 2016). "Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC". ProPublica.
  49. "Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC". Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards.