The Charleston Gazette-Mail has been chosen as one of seven news outlets nationwide to participate in a new Local Reporting Network launched by the nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica.
ProPublica selected veteran staff writer Ken Ward Jr. from a pool of 239 applicants from 45 states. The yearlong initiative, which kicks off in January, was created to support investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations, particularly in cities with populations below 1 million.
ProPublica will reimburse the newsrooms for salaries for the selected reporters and provide extensive support and guidance for their reports.
Participants in the ProPublica Local Reporting Network will work in and report to their home newsrooms while collaborating with ProPublica Senior Editor Charles Ornstein.
ProPublica’s expertise with data, research and engagement will be available for their reports, as well. The reports will be jointly published by their news organizations and ProPublica.
“This project was started to give local newsrooms across America needed resources and support to execute investigative journalism that digs deep and holds power to account,” Ornstein said. “The powerful proposals from our inaugural group of reporters are very much in that spirit, and I look forward to working with them to help bring their stories to fruition over the next year.”
Topics covered will include conflicts of interest, housing, mental health care, criminal justice and workplace safety. Ward will be investigating the effects of West Virginia’s economic transition as the coal industry declines and natural gas has become a more dominant industry.
“We’re proud to work with a reporting group of ProPublica’s caliber,” Gazette-Mail Executive Editor Rob Byers said. “It’s great to see such value being placed on local reporting.”
Ward, 50, is the Gazette-Mail’s coal industry and environmental reporter. Since joining the newspaper in 1991, Ward has received numerous national awards for his work, including three Edward J. Meeman Awards for Environmental Reporting from the Scripps Howard Foundation and an Investigative Reporters and Editors medal for coverage of coal-mine safety.
The other newsrooms and reporters selected by ProPublica are:
- The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) — Rebekah Allen
- Malheur Enterprise (Vale, Ore.) — Jayme Fraser
- Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) — Rebecca Moss
- South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) — Christian Sheckler
- The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Ill.) — Molly Parker
- WMFE (Orlando, Fla.) — Abe Aboraya