Ohio nonprofit news site partners with ProPublica

Communities / Article

Above: Inside the ProPublica newsroom. Photo credit Flickr user propublica.

The News Outlet, a two-time winner of Knight’s Community Information Challenge based at Youngstown State University, has attracted an important partnership with ProPublica, a leading national investigative reporting organization.

Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica, will help lead an Advanced Reporting course at Youngstown State University in the fall, working with students to report and produce investigative stories.

Engelberg said ProPublica is interested in sharing its expertise, and that the university’s open-access mission and heavy emphasis on investigative reporting make it a strong fit for the project, according to a press release about the partnership.

“With regional publications under financial strain, the question of how to train the next generation of investigative journalists is now a critical one. We are delighted to participate in this approach, which shows real promise,” he said.

Engelberg will join Youngstown State University Journalism Professors Tim Francisco and Alyssa Lenhoff in leading the class. Francisco and Lenhoff are co-directors of The News Outlet, which won the Knight Community Information Challenge in 2010 and 2011 with support from the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation.

The News Outlet was launched at Youngstown State University and has grown to become a joint venture among several other universities and professional media organizations in Ohio. The News Outlet’s student journalists produce enterprise and investigative stories that are shared on different platforms with news organizations, including local newspapers and public radio stations.

One such story, developed with the Vindicator newspaper, recently won first place in the Ohio Associated Press competition for investigative reporting.

Engelberg will visit campus at the beginning of the project and then will be joining the class each week via Skype. He will be talking with students about a wide range of journalistic issues from finding stories to uncovering information and conducting interviews.  

Lenhoff said investigative reporting is a critical skill for journalism students to master. “We place a heavy emphasis on investigative and in-depth reporting. We do this for several reasons: We believe that this type of reporting is critical for society in general; and we also believe that it gives our graduates an advantage when they are ready to enter the profession.’’