Above: ProPublica celebrates its second Pulitzer Prize
We’re very pleased to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has made a grant to support ProPublica’s news applications desk. The grant will support and enhance our ongoing efforts in what we call “news applications,” which we believe are an emerging discipline within journalism.
A news application is a large web-based interactive database that tells a journalistic story using software instead of words and pictures. It’s software and it’s journalism — both at once, and done by the same people. From Dollars for Docs, which lets readers find out if their healthcare provider is taking payments from pharmaceutical companies, to Opportunity Gap, which helps readers understand the sometimes-unequal distribution of educational opportunites to high poverty schools, ProPublica’s news applications strives toward the same goal as the traditional journalists in our newsroom do: To spur reform through a sustained spotlight on problems.
News applications afford readers the opportunity to see a broad national problem but also to understand how that problem affects them personally. It’s one thing to understand abstractly how, say, educational opporutnities are distributed. But it’s quite another to see your own high school and how it compares to the poorest and wealthiest in the state. If the best way to learn is to apply new knowledge to what you already know, then the ability of a news application to contextualize data has limitless possibilities to do great journalism.