ProPublica, legally Pro Publica, Inc., is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It is a newsroom that aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest.In 2010, it became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize, for a piece written by one of its journalists and published in The New York Times Magazine as well as on ProPublica.org. 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.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.
ProPublica had an initial news staff of 28 reporters and editors,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 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.
On August 5, 2015, Yelp announced a partnership with the company to help improve their healthcare statistics.
In June 2021, ProPublica revealed it received an anonymous leak of personal tax filings for thousands of the wealthiest Americans over multiple years, and published a long form analysis of the 25 wealthiest individuals filings and rates per year. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said that the IRS would investigate the leak of the tax data to ProPublica and that any violations of law would be prosecuted.
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.ProPublica and the Knight Foundation have various connections. For example, Paul Steiger, executive chairman of ProPublica, is a trustee of the Knight Foundation. In like manner, Alberto Ibarguen, the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation is on the board of ProPublica.
ProPublica has attracted attention for the salaries it pays its employees.In 2008, Paul Steiger, the editor of ProPublica, received a salary of $570,000. Steiger was formerly the managing editor at The Wall Street Journal , where his total compensation (including options ) was double that at ProPublica. Steiger's stated strategy is to use a Wall Street Journal pay model to attract journalistic talent. 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).
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."It was written by ProPublica's Sheri Fink and published in The New York Times Magazine as well as on ProPublica.org. This was the first Pulitzer awarded to an online news source. The article also won the 2010 National Magazine Award for Reporting.
In 2011, ProPublica won its second Pulitzer Prize.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."
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.
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.
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.
In May 2020, ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize in public service for illuminating public safety gaps in Alaska.
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.The piece won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. This piece was adapted into the 2019 Netflix series Unbelievable .
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.
ProPublica conducted a large-scale, circumscribed investigation on Psychiatric Solutions, a company based in Tennessee that buys failing hospitals, cuts staff, and accumulates profit.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 by Florida officials once again. Their report was published in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times .
In 2017, ProPublica launched the Documenting Hate project for systematic tracking of hate crimes and bias incidents.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.
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.The database was controversial, drawing criticism from doctors and prompting a critique from RAND. However, statisticians, including Andrew Gelman, stood behind their decision to attempt to shine light on an opaque aspect of the medical field, and ProPublica offered specific rebuttals to RAND's claims.
ProPublica has created an interactive map that allows people to search for addresses in New York City to see the effects of eviction cases.The app was nominated for a Livingston Award.
In June 2021, after receiving leaked or hacked IRS documents, ProPublica published a report which showed that tax rates for by the wealthiest Americans were significantly lower than the average middle class tax rate, when considering unrealized capital gains as equivalent to earned income.
On June 9th, Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers that investigating the source of the leak would be a top priority for the Justice Department.
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is a politically conservative U.S. advocacy group whose stated goal is "a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today." According to ATR, "The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized." The organization is known for its "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", which asks candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. The founder and president of ATR is Grover Norquist, a conservative tax activist.
Intuit Inc. is an American business that specializes in financial software. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and the CEO is Sasan Goodarzi. As of 2019, more than 95% of its revenues and earnings come from its activities within the United States. Intuit's products include the tax preparation application TurboTax, personal finance app Mint and the small business accounting program QuickBooks. Intuit has lobbied extensively against the IRS providing taxpayers with free pre-filled forms, as is the norm in other developed countries.
TurboTax is a software package for preparation of American income tax returns, produced by Intuit. TurboTax is a market leader in its product segment, competing with H&R Block Tax Software and TaxAct. TurboTax was developed by Michael A. Chipman of Chipsoft in 1984 and was sold to Intuit in 1993.
The Asbury Park Press is a daily newspaper in Monmouth and Ocean counties of New Jersey and has the third largest circulation in the state. It has been owned by Gannett since 1997.
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. In 2020, Miller shared the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting with other reporters from ProPublica and The Seattle Times. With Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi, Miller co-won the 2020 award for his reporting on United States Seventh Fleet accidents.
Daniel L. 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 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.
Form 990 is a United States Internal Revenue Service form that provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization. It is often the only source of such information. It is also used by government agencies to prevent organizations from abusing their tax-exempt status. Certain nonprofits have more comprehensive reporting requirements, such as hospitals and other health care organizations.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory tax law. It is part of the Department of the Treasury and led by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed to a five-year term by the President of the United States. The duties of the IRS include providing tax assistance to taxpayers; pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings; and overseeing various benefits programs, including the Affordable Care Act.
Sheri Fink is an American journalist who writes about health, medicine and science.
Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter for ProPublica who frequently works in partnership with the New York Times Magazine. He focuses on the intersections of business, climate and energy.
Ken Armstrong is a senior reporter at ProPublica.
Sandler Foundation is a charitable foundation formed in 1991 with support from Herbert Sandler and Marion Sandler, co-CEOs of Golden West Financial Corporation and World Savings Bank. In 2006, the Sandlers made a contribution of $1.3 billion to the foundation, which was the second largest American charitable contribution of 2006. Sandler Foundation is a spend-down foundation as the Sandlers have signed The Giving Pledge. The Sandlers founded the nonprofit investigative news organization 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.
In 2013, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that it had selected political groups applying for tax-exempt status for intensive scrutiny based on their names or political themes. This led to wide condemnation of the agency and triggered several investigations, including a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal probe ordered by United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
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 NAACP's civil rights activist and attorney whose arguments won the landmark U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education, who later became the first African-American justice of that Court.
Nikole Sheri Hannah-Jones is an 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. In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and in 2020 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work on The 1619 Project.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation was a New York-based tax-exempt private foundation formed in 1988 by Donald Trump and existed until its court-ordered and court-supervised dissolution in 2019. It was formed by Trump to receive his share of the royalties from his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, as well as donations from outsiders, to be applied to charitable causes. Trump served as its president until January 2017, three days after his inauguration as U.S. President. Trump's three adult children — Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. — all served on the board, which had not met after 1999. Trump stopped contributing to the foundation in 2008, but continued to solicit donations.
Julia Angwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and entrepreneur. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates the impact of technology on society. She was a senior reporter at ProPublica from 2014 to April 2018 and staff reporter at the New York bureau of The Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2013. Angwin is author of non-fiction books, Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America (2009) and Dragnet Nation (2014). She is a winner and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
Patricia Callahan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist for ProPublica.