PRO Publica, Inc.

aka ProPublica   |   New York, NY   |  www.propublica.org/

Mission

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism to expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.

Ruling year info

2008

President

Mr. Richard Tofel

Editor in Chief

Mr. Stephen Engelberg

Main address

155 Avenue of the Americas, 13th Floor

New York, NY 10013 USA

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EIN

14-2007220

NTEE code info

Printing, Publishing (A33)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

History demonstrates that a vigilant press is an essential and effective weapon against private and public corruption. The existence of vibrant and independent journalism is a critical factor inhibiting abuse of power and in the absence of such watchdogs, the public interest suffers. As newsrooms continue to shrink, the need for deep-dive investigative reporting is more important than ever. In short, without donor support of investigative reporting, we cannot sustain the critical role the press plays in exposing corruption, especially of government and corporations, but also of other power centers. Filling this gap is imperative to maintaing one of the most important checks and balances of our democracy.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Investigative Journalism

ProPublica is an independent newsroom led by some of the nation’s most distinguished editors. In the best traditions of American journalism in the public service, we seek to stimulate positive change. We uncover unsavory practices in order to stimulate reform. We do this in an entirely non-partisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality. Our mission: to expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.

The ProPublica's newsroom includes more than 140 people with a wide range of background and experience. We have collaborated with over 200 publishing partners, including nearly all of the major news organizations in the country. As a non-profit we share the fruits of our work in ways that a profit-seeking publisher never would, e.g. almost all our stories are available for reprint under a Creative Commons license.

We are also proud to continue to receive honors from colleagues in our field. ProPublica has received five Pulitzer Prizes, five Peabody Awards, seven George Polk Awards, and four Online Journalism Awards for general excellence, among many others. A full list of honors, including our most recent awards, can be found here: www.propublica.org/awards/.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Investigative Reporting 2010

Pulitzer Prize

Reporting 2010

National Magazine Awards

Environmental Reporting 2010

George Polk Award

National Reporting 2011

Pulitzer Prize

Radio Reporting (with NPR) 2011

George Polk Award

Explanatory 2016

Pulitzer Prize

National Reporting 2016

George Polk Award

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Since ProPublica opened its doors in 2008, the organization's mission has become even more critical; our investigative stories have filled an even larger gap. Issues of inequality are among the most pressing in our society, and range across substantive fields. We find ourselves awash in opinions about these matters, but often starved for fresh or compelling facts of the sort that might prompt change. ProPublica believes that investigative reporting in the public interest on these matters has—and can—provide such facts in a way that strongly promotes civil rights and democratic governance.

ProPublica had taken on stories most news organizations won't touch because they are too complex, too expensive, or too legally risky. We believe, however, that such work is critical to spurring accountability." We believe that such work is critical to spurring accountability. History demonstrates that a vigilant press is an essential and effective weapon against private and public corruption. Contemporary social science has repeatedly shown that the existence of vibrant and independent journalism is a critical factor inhibiting abuse of power—and that in the absence of such watchdogs, the public interest suffers.

In short, without a renewed and continuing societal commitment to investigative reporting, we cannot sustain the critical role the press plays in exposing corruption, especially of government and corporations, but also of other power centers. Filling this gap is imperative; failure to do so will cost us one of the most important checks and balances of our democracy. ProPublica's commitment to and reputation for independent investigative reporting has earned our newsroom a position among the trusted news sources people rely on.

Our long-term goal is to provoke change by exposing wrongdoing and inequity in such areas as immigration, the environment and education; reporting abuses of the public trust in non-profits, corporations and law enforcement; building and updating databases like Dollars for Docs that help people make better health care choices; surfacing the dysfunction caused by a political system that has become overly susceptible to influence including our coverage of the Trump administration; and matters of debt, race, and gender.

Each of our major projects is published in a manner deemed by editors at ProPublica to be likely to maximize the impact of the work, including through possible publishing partnerships with leading established news organizations and a bespoke, strategic plan for dissemination. Often, that plan yields other nonprofit media who frequently reprint, link to or write-up stories about our investigations.

ProPublica began publishing in 2008 and we celebrated our tenth anniversary last June. In that time, ProPublica has pioneered a new model of nonprofit journalism, which has since been replicated across the world. Our reporting has empowered readers, changed laws and policies and helped bring bad actors to justice. From our beginnings as a newsroom of 20 to our current staff more than 140, ProPublica has grown dramatically. ProPublica is headquartered in New York, with the ProPublica Illinois unit located in Chicago and smaller offices in Berkeley and Washington, DC.

We lead the field by producing stories that spur change, working with an unmatched network of publishing partners and innovating constantly. Beats currently covered by ProPublica include politics, health care, education, business, criminal justice, online privacy and tech, environment, consumer finance, women and gender, climate change adaptation, immigration, hate and, the President’s personal business, and New York City, in addition the work of our Local Reporting Network which supports local investigative reporters across the country.

As a non-profit focused on journalism in the public interest, we are motivated to share the fruits of our work in ways that a profit-seeking publisher never would. The more people we reach and engage, the higher the chance for impact. Almost all our stories are available for reprint under a Creative Commons license. We often distribute our stories through one or more major media partners, carefully selected in each case to target key audiences and maximize the potential for impact from our work. Since 2008, we have worked with more than 200 partners, in print, on television, on radio and online, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR News, Frontline, the Atlantic, This American Life, the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, Consumer Reports, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New Yorker.

A critical element of our approach is innovation – new approaches, new techniques -- in order to lead the field, build our audience and ensure impact. Members of our staff have won virtually every major journalism award. Some of the team have decades of experience in newspaper reporting and are among the top journalists on their beats and as editors; others are at the cutting edge of new techniques that are leading the way in uncovering and communicating important information in the evolving ecosystem of journalism.

The most important measure of ProPublica's success is whether our work is having impact. We are diligent in reviewing how resources are spent, assessing the impact of our work, and reviewing how we might have achieved greater impact. Examples of what we mean, and discussions of how we think about the subject of impact, can be found at https://www.propublica.org/impact. Following are just a few examples of impact in 2019:

• In November 2019, ProPublica Illinois partnered with the Chicago Tribune on an investigation into the use of “isolated timeout” rooms within Illinois public schools. Children as young as five were sent to seclusion rooms, sometimes for hours on end, alone and often terrified, for infractions as minor as spilling milk. ProPublica reporters found isolated timeout routinely—and illegally—misused across the state. The day after our report was published, Governor Pritzker called the practice "appalling" and vowed to work with legislators to enact a permanent ban. In addition, the State Board of Education announced emergency action to end isolated seclusion in Illinois schools.

• In May 2019, ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News partnered on an investigation of law enforcement in Alaska’s rural areas, uncovering disturbing levels of sexual abuse in villages that often have little or no law enforcement presence. In the wake of the investigation, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr declared an emergency for public safety in rural Alaska and announced more than $10 million in funds as part of a sweeping plan to support law enforcement in Alaska Native villages. These funds will, among other things, support three new federal prosecutors to focus on rural Alaska and also hire 20 additional officers, purchase new equipment and upgrade public safety infrastructure for Alaska villages and tribes. At the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in October, Barr announced an addition $42 million to support Alaska Native tribes, including tribal victim services and village law enforcement.

• In June 2019, ProPublica partnered with MLK50 in Tennessee as part of our Local Reporting Network to investigate Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s aggressive collection policy, relentlessly pursuing the poor and even their own staff through their own collection agency, even though their tax exemption is based on charity care to low-income patients. Over five years, Methodist brought 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills, while flouting IRS rules that they post financial assistance policies in public areas visible to patients. In late July, the hospital announced sweeping reforms including raising the minimum wage for its employees, dramatically expanding its financial assistance policy for hospital care and stopping lawsuits against its own employees for unpaid medical debts. In September, they forgave the debts owed by more than 6,500 patients, including over $30,000 from a woman featured in our story.

Financials

PRO Publica, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

PRO Publica, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 2/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Paul Sagan

General Catalyst Partners

Term: 2007 -

Henry Gates

Harvard University

Paul Steiger

ProPublica

Paul Sagan

General Catalyst Partners

Mark Colodny

Warburg Pincus

Claire Hoffman

The Goldhirsch Foundation

Robert C.S. Monks

Monks O'Neil Development

Ron Olson

Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Angela Filo

Yellow Chair Foundation

Katie McGrath

Bad Robot Productions

James Stone

Plymouth Rock Assurance Company

S. Sussman

The Paloma Fund

Danielle Allen

Harvard University

Claire Bernard

Mariposa Foundation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No