ProPublica is an American nonprofit organization based in New York City. It describes itself as a nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.[2] In 2010, it became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize, for a piece[3] written by one of its journalists[4][5] and published in The New York Times Magazine[6] as well as on ProPublica.org.[7] ProPublica's 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 four Pulitzer Prizes.


ProPublica was the brainchild of billionaires and major Democratic donors Herbert and Marion Sandler, the former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation, who have committed $10 million a year to the project.[8] 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 expose 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.[9]

ProPublica had an initial news staff of 28 reporters and editors,[10] 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[11] 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.[12]

On August 5, 2015, Yelp announced a partnership with the company to help improve their healthcare statistics.[13]


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.[14] ProPublica and the Knight Foundation have various connections. For example, Paul Steiger, president of ProPublica, is a trustee of the Knight Foundation.[15] In like manner, Alberto Ibarguen, the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation is on the board of ProPublica.[16] In 2010, it received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from George Soros' Open Society Foundations.[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[6] as well as on ProPublica.org.[7] This was the first Pulitzer awarded to an online news source.[4][5] 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]

Notable reporting and projects

ProPublica is known for their in-depth investigative reporting, particularly using data. Their team of writers and editors (including Scott Klein, Olga Pierce, Sisi Wei, Ryann Grochowski Jones, Lena Groeger, and Al Shaw) work on stories that break the traditional news cycle. Many of their pieces are built on interactive databases.

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.[31]

ProPublica conducted a large-scale, circumscribed investigation on Psychiatric Solutions, a company based in Tennessee that buys failing hospitals, cuts staff, and accumulates profit.[32] 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 [33] by Florida officials once again.[34] 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.[35] 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 StarTribune partnered with ProPublica to write about reporting of hate crimes in Minnesota.[36]

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.[37] The database was controversial, drawing criticism from doctors and prompting a critique from RAND.[38][39] However, statisticians, including Andrew Gelman, stood behind their decision to attempt to shine light on an opaque aspect of the medical field,[40] and ProPublica offered specific rebuttals to RAND's claims.[41]

Vital Signs

In 2017, ProPublica expanded their health coverage into a broader database called Vital Signs ("Know more about your doctor"), which includes information on office visits, drug payments, prescription patterns, as well as surgical performance.[42]

Nonprofit Explorer

The Nonprofit Explorer is an explorable database of organizations filing Form 990 with the IRS. The tool allows users to search for and sort data on nonprofits across states and categories.Tigas, Mike; Wei, Sisi; Glassford, Alex (2017-09-15). "Nonprofit Explorer". 

Bombs in your Backyard

Bombs in Your Backyard is an interactive database of where contaminated military sites across the US are located.[43]

Hell and High Water

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, ProPublica released Hell and High Water, an interactive story about Houston's flood risk[44] The project was done in conjunction with The Texas Tribune.

Machine Bias

In this Pulitzer-Prize nominated story, ProPublica exposed how recidivism scoring algorithms, commonly used in many states, are racially biased.[45][46]

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.[47] The app was nominated for a Livingston Award.[48]

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.[49] The piece won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.[50]

Board members

Public academic Henry Louis Gates Jr. sits on the board.


  1. ^ "ProPublicaSite Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2017-03-23. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  3. ^ "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." - Pulitzer.org The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Investigative Reporting, accessed 13 April 2010
  4. ^ a b The Guardian, 13 April 2010, Pulitzer progress for non-profit news
  5. ^ a b ProPublica, Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting: Deadly Choices at Memorial
  6. ^ a b Sheri Fink, New York Times Magazine, 25 August 2009, THE DEADLY CHOICES AT MEMORIAL
  7. ^ a b ProPublica, 27 August 2009, The Deadly Choices at Memorial
  8. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (2007-10-15). "Group Plans to Provide Investigative Journalism". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  9. ^ PBS Newshour, 24 June 2008, "Financing Independent Journalism"
  10. ^ Calderone, Michael (2008-07-10). "ProPublica will hire everyone". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  11. ^ Hirschman, David S. "So What Do You Do, Paul Steiger, Editor-in-Chief, ProPublica?". Mediabistro. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  12. ^ "Why (and How) We Use Creative Commons for Our Stories". ProPublica. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
  13. ^ http://officialblog.yelp.com/2015/08/yelps-consumer-protection-initiative-propublica-partnership-brings-medical-info-to-yelp.html
  14. ^ Shafer, Jack (October 15, 2007). "What Do Herbert and Marion Sandler Want?". Slate. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  15. ^ Board of Trustees, Knight Foundation
  16. ^ Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO, Knight Foundation
  17. ^ "Why Don't We Hear About Soros' Ties to Over 30 Major News Organizations?". Fox News. 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  18. ^ Turner, Zeke. "Shelling Out the Big Bucks at ProPublica The New York Observer". Observer.com. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  19. ^ Taylor, Mike (2010-08-10). "ProPublica's Top-Paid Employees All Made Six Figures in 2009". Mediabistro.com (FishbowlNY). Retrieved 2012-02-23. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Philanthrocrat of the day, ProPublica edition". Reuters. 30 September 2009. 
  21. ^ "Diamonds in the Rough". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  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". Mediabistro.com. 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  24. ^ Pulitzer.org The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Investigative Reporting, accessed 13 April 2010
  25. ^ "National Magazine Award Winners 1966-2015". American Society of Magazine Editors. Retrieved 2017-05-09. 
  26. ^ "A Note on ProPublica's Second Pulitzer Prize". ProPublica. 2011-04-18. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  27. ^ "T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project". Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  28. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes: Public Service". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  29. ^ "The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  30. ^ "2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners". The New York Times. 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  31. ^ IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups, Kim Barker and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, May 13, 2013
  32. ^ Jewett, Christina; Robin Fields (November 23, 2008). "Psychiatric care's perils and profits". Los Angeles Times. ProPublica. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  33. ^ Wolfrum, Timothy R. (May 6, 2010). "State slams Manatee Palms psychiatric hospital". The Bradenton Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  34. ^ "MANATEE PALMS YOUTH SERVICES Facility Profile". FloridaHealthFinder.gov. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  35. ^ 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 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  36. ^ Stephen Montemayor (2018-01-23). "Confusion, varying thresholds keep many Minnesota agencies from reporting hate crime data". StarTribune. 
  37. ^ Wei, Sisi; Pierce, Olga; Allen, Marshall (2015-07-15). "Surgeon Scorecard". ProPublica. 
  38. ^ Friedberg M, Pronovost P, Shahian D, Safran D, Bilimoria K, Elliott M, Damberg C, Dimick J, Zaslavsky A. "A Methodological Critique of the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard". RAND Corporation. 
  39. ^ Dougherty, Geoff; Harder, Ben (2015-08-25). "The U.S. News Take on ProPublica's Surgeon Scorecard". US News. 
  40. ^ Andrew Gelman (2015-08-04). "Pro Publica's New Surgeon Scorecards". 
  41. ^ Engelberg, Stephen; Pierce, Olga (2015-10-07). "Our Rebuttal to RAND's Critique of Surgeon Scorecard". ProPublica. 
  42. ^ Klein, Scott; Wei, Sisi (March 10, 2017). "Introducing Vital Signs". ProPublica. 
  43. ^ Groeger, Lena; Grochowski Jones, Ryann; Lustgarten, Abrahm (2017-11-30). "Bombs in Your Backyard". ProPublica. 
  44. ^ Satija, Neena; Collier, Kieh; Shaw, Al; Larson, Jeff (2016-03-03). "Hell and High Water". The Texas Tribune, reveal, and ProPublica. 
  45. ^ Angwin, Julia; Mattu, Surya; Kirchner, Lauren (2016-05-23). "Machine Bias". ProPublica. 
  46. ^ "Finalist: Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, Lauren Kirchner and Terry Parris Jr. of ProPublica". The Pulitzer Prizes. 
  47. ^ Wei, Sisi; Groeger, Lena; Podkul, Cezary; Schwencke, Ken (2016-12-15). "Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC". ProPublica. 
  48. ^ "Tracking Evictions and Rent Stabilization in NYC". Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards. 
  49. ^ Miller, T Christian; Armstrong, Ken (2015-12-16). "An Unbelievable Story of Rape". ProPublica and The Marshall Project. 
  50. ^ "T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project". 

External links