The money will be used to support ProPublica’s News Applications team, including adding one full-time staffer. ProPublica has already hired that person, Lena Groeger, who first joined the team in a pilot fellowship program. The grant will also help make that fellowship program — which is essentially a paid internship for tech-savvy journalists — a permanent fixture at ProPublica.
News applications editor Scott Klein says the grant will primarily help increase his team’s metabolism to execute data-driven projects.
“Obviously, we’re going to be doing a lot of news apps,” Klein told me. “What’s important to me is that we continue to do great work that supports the mission of ProPublica, which is to have impact in the real world. I think it’s important that ProPublica be a leader in this new discipline in journalism, and to whatever extent we can help other organizations do this kind of work as well.”
Since its launch five years ago, ProPublica has aimed to be a “moral force” in news. But did its founding team envision data journalism as being a driving force for the site?
“Very honestly, no,” general manager Richard Tofel told me. “It’s really Scott Klein who led us into this. It’s fair to say that when we hired him, we thought we were hiring him to work on our website — and some other things — but principally to run our website. It was really Scott who had the vision of what this field could be.”
Data journalism has become the area into which ProPublica has poured the most additional resources, Tofel says, and Knight wants to help the site lead the journalism industry into a new age of data journalism. To do that, ProPublica has also committed to using grant money for a new job shadowing program nicknamed P5 — short for the alliterative ProPublica Paired Programming Project — that will invite one non-ProPublica journalist per month to work with Klein and his team.
“We feel like it’s important for them to kind of help us move the field forward in the space of data journalism,” said Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and innovation at the Knight Foundation. “One of the key things for us was trying to facilitate networking between not only grantees but people working in this space. We think this is a really rich area.”
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.