Newsroom Seminar offers session on ProPublica, South Bend Tribune reporting project


 Early this year, the South Bend Tribune was selected as one of seven newsrooms to participate in a new initiative by ProPublica, the Local Reporting Network. More than 200 news organizations applied for the project which provides financial and editorial support for investigative journalism.

A session at the Sept. 15 Newsroom Seminar in Indianapolis, “Law and Order: Local Investigative Journalism,” will focus on the reporting from this partnership which examines the criminal justice system in Elkhart County.

The first story in the Tribune’s series takes a deep look at the case of Keith Cooper and Chris Parish, who spent more than eight years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

The Tribune’s Christian Sheckler and ProPublica’s two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Ken Armstrong will walk seminar attendees through their reporting process — which included obstacles in obtaining information like a judge saying trial exhibits were off limits.

Sheckler said to tell the full story, it’s important to push for access to information and leave no stone unturned. “There’s a payoff to getting documents that have never made their way into previous news coverage of a story,” he said.

The seminar session will offer advice that newsrooms can use to tell in-depth stories and will also explain ProPublica’s project. “I hope they walk away with an awareness of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network and some of the benefits that can come from it,” Armstrong said.

ProPublica is adding another seven newsrooms to its network, Armstrong said. These organizations will be a part of a project specifically focusing on statehouse coverage. The deadline to apply for that project is Sept. 15. “I think that really what everybody wants is that the best, most important stories get the resources they need and that they be told,” Armstrong said.

Sheckler encourages Indiana newsrooms to apply to ProPublica’s program. “It’s been such an amazing opportunity to have their support doing this,” he said.

To apply for the ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network project focusing on state governments, click here.

To read the South Bend Tribune’s stories, click here.

To read more stories from ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, click here.