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Investigative Editor Training Program

ProPublica

New York, NY 01-23-2024
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  • Paid
  • Full Time
  • Executive (10+ years) Experience
Job Description
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

For the second year, ProPublica will invite up to 10 news editors from media companies across the country to participate in a yearlong investigative editing training program, led by the newsroom's award-winning staff.

Applications are now open for the ProPublica Investigative Editor Training Program. Submissions are due Monday, March 11.

As the nation's premier nonprofit investigative newsroom, ProPublica is dedicated to journalism that changes laws and lives and to advancing the careers of the people who produce it. The goal of this program is to address our industry's critical need to diversify the ranks of investigative editors. Building a pipeline of talent is a priority that serves us and our industry.

''ProPublica has made real strides since it was established 15 years ago in building an investigative newsroom, but it has struggled, like our competitors across the country, when it comes to finding journalists with the investigative chops to become editors,'' said Ginger Thompson, chief of correspondents and an architect of the editor training program. ''Rather than sitting around lamenting the problem, we decided to try to do something to fix it.''

When we announced this program last year, we were overwhelmed by the interest. We chose our inaugural cohort from a stacked field of 159 applicants who were eager to develop their skills as investigative editors.

Then we brought them to New York for an intensive weeklong boot camp featuring a curriculum developed by Thompson and Deputy Managing Editor Alexandra Zayas that breaks down how ProPublica crafts its investigations for maximum impact.

''When reading ProPublica stories, I often wondered how the reporter and editor even thought to do them,'' said Brendan Klinkenberg, a member of the inaugural cohort and, now, senior editor at The New York Times. ''And in our first course, I started to see in really clear terms how ProPublica thinks about investigations. It was a real curtain-peeled-back moment.''

In addition to the sessions, which focus on every aspect of editing from story selection and memos to managing the reporting and digging into the first draft, participants also get to learn from one another.

''Everyone was more open than I expected them to be,'' said Lillian M. Ortiz, a member of the inaugural cohort and managing editor at Shelterforce. ''I took a lot away from the training session that I've brought back to my newsroom. It was also eye-opening to hear about the similar challenges other editors are facing or have faced - especially in newsrooms that are much larger than mine.''

Tracy Jan, deputy health and science health editor at The Washington Post, said, ''I left with not only inspiration but also concrete, practical steps I can take as an editor to help our team achieve ambitious, rewarding work.''

This year's program will begin in June 2024 with a weeklong boot camp in New York that will include courses and panel discussions on how to conceive of and produce investigative projects that expose harm and have impact. The editors will also get training in how to manage reporters who are working with data, documents and sensitive sources, including whistleblowers, agency insiders and people who have suffered trauma. The program continues with a yearlong mentorship pairing and virtual continuing education sessions.

This program is funded through the generous support of the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, which supports organizations in journalism, film and the arts whose work is dedicated to social justice and strengthening democracy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this?

The ProPublica Investigative Editor Training Program is designed to help expand the ranks of editors with investigative experience in more newsrooms across the country, with a focus on people from underrepresented backgrounds.

What kind of experience can you expect?

The program kicks off with a five-day intensive editing boot camp in New York, with courses and panel discussions led by ProPublica's senior editors, veteran reporters and other newsroom leaders. The boot camp will include hands-on editing exercises and opportunities for participants to workshop projects underway in their own newsrooms.

Afterward, participants will gather virtually every two months for seminars and career development discussions with their cohort and ProPublica journalists. Each of the participants will also be assigned a ProPublica senior editor as a mentor for advice on story and management challenges or on how to most effectively pursue their own professional aspirations.

What skills should I expect to learn?
• How to evaluate story ideas and determine the right scope, length and time for getting the work done.
• How to manage a reporter through a complicated accountability story and communicate feedback in ways that build trust and confidence.
• How to edit investigative drafts, spot holes in reporting logic, organize a narrative and guide the reporter through the fact-checking process.
• How to work collaboratively with research, data and multimedia teams to elevate an investigative project.

When is the boot camp?

The five-day, all-expenses-paid boot camp will be held June 2-6, 2024, in New York, with remote sessions via Zoom throughout the year.

Is there a virtual option for the boot camp?

We are planning for the 2024 boot camp to be held in person and will not have a virtual option.

Will I be responsible for my expenses in New York?

ProPublica will cover participants' expenses for meals, travel and lodging during the boot camp.

How many participants will be selected each year?

Up to 10 journalists.

What if I can't make it this year?

ProPublica plans to offer this training in 2025 as well.

Who is eligible?

The program is open to all, but we especially encourage people from traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities. As part of the application, participants will be asked how their inclusion in the program will help to diversify the editing ranks of investigative journalism.

The ideal participants will have:
• A minimum of five years of journalism experience, either as an editor or as a reporter primarily doing work with an investigative or accountability focus.
• A strong grasp of the basics of editing, storytelling, structure and framing.
• Experience managing a team of journalists or a complicated multipronged reporting project.
• An accountability mindset: You don't have to have been on the investigative team, but we are looking for people with an eye for watchdog reporting and editing.

Am I eligible if I live outside of the United States?
Our program is open to all, but our goal is to improve the diversity of investigative editors in the United States and we'll focus participation accordingly.

How do I apply?
The application period opens on Jan. 23, 2024, and closes on Monday, March 11, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

How can I learn more about the program?
We'll be hosting an informational webinar on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. You can register and submit questions in advance here.

What if I have other questions?
Send an email to Assistant Managing Editor Talia Buford at talent@propublica.org.

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Jobcode: Reference SBJ-d9vnvk-100-26-196-222-42 in your application.

Company Profile
ProPublica

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.