2022 Winner

ProPublica and Partner Newsrooms

Country/area: United States

Organisation: ProPublica and Partner Newsrooms

Organisation size: Big

Jury’s Comments:

With more than 100 journalists, ProPublica continues to be the gold standard for data journalism around the world. Across an impressive range of topics, the jury was impressed by the superb quality of ProPublica’s work. Their reporting has led to new laws, reversals of harmful policies and increased accountability for elected officials and regulators. The jury cited ProPublica’s creative use of government pollution data to show toxic “hot spots” around the country where people may be exposed to levels of excess cancer risk that would otherwise exceed allowable standards. The jury also commended ProPublica for its continued commitment to collaboration with local news organizations, bringing resources that local newsrooms otherwise wouldn’t have access to.


Cover letter:

With a team of more than 100 journalists, ProPublica investigates a range of topics including government and politics, business, criminal justice, the environment, education, health care, immigration and technology. We focus on stories with the potential to spur real-world impact. Among other positive changes, our reporting has contributed to the passage of new laws; reversals of harmful policies and practices; and accountability for leaders at local, state and national levels. One thing core to the work we do is the belief that data journalism is a key way in which we can hold power to account and shine a light into dark places. In 2021, we published — frequently working with partner newsrooms around the country — a range of stories and interactive pieces that do just that.

Description of portfolio:

The projects we’re included were some of the biggest we produced this year:

  • We showed how 250,000 people living in hot spots of industrial air pollution may be exposed to levels of excess cancer risk that the EPA otherwise deems unacceptable — and lets readers see the dangers near them.
  • We used the greatest trove of heretofore secret financial information on the ultrawealthy in the U.S. ever made public to reveal how they pay tiny amounts of federal income taxes
  • We used EPA air sensors to monitor pollution in a south Florida community blanketed with ash from sugar cane harvesting
  • We used genomic sequencing data to track an ongoing salmonella outbreak and created a mobile tool that let shoppers look up salmonella rates for the plant that processed the chicken at their supermarket.
  • We built an interactive video presentation that let readers watch the events of January 6 unfold as though they were present at the insurrection. This project, which published hundreds of videos for the first time, was cited as evidence in impeachment of former President Donald Trump, and in dozens of court documents charging participants with crimes.

We also published urgent, data-driven projects about the police department in New York City, one of the largest in the Country, on police union contracts in New Jersey, and on home-improvement lending.

Taken together this represents data journalism being done at the highest level and we’re enormously proud to submit it for a Sigma Award.

Project links: