Malheur Enterprise wins national funding for expanded investigative reporting work

The Malheur Enterprise is one of seven news outlets picked from across the U.S. to take part in a program to expand local investigative reporting.

In the next year, the Enterprise will receive funding to hire a full-time reporter assigned exclusively to a major investigative project. Jayme Fraser will join the Enterprise’s two-person reporting crew. She is currently a reporter with the Missoulian, the daily newspaper in Missoula, Mont.

ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative reporting powerhouse based in New York, announced its selections Friday morning. The news organization has won several Pulitzer Prizes for its own work, and will provide editing, research and presentation help to the Enterprise and other newsrooms. The Enterprise’s application was among 239 submitted for the first year of the program and was the only weekly chosen.

This brings significant additional journalistic resources to Malheur County, the poorest county in Oregon. The Enterprise in the past two years has established a reputation for investigative and enterprise reporting in the county. Fraser will build on the Enterprise’s work investigating the circumstances of the release by state officials of Tony Montwheeler. Montwheeler is accused of murder and assault following his release. Fraser will delve into Oregon’s system for dealing with those guilty of crimes but insane. More details about the program will appear in next week’s Enterprise.

Here is the full text of ProPublica’s announcement:

ProPublica today named the seven newsrooms and local reporters that will participate in the inaugural ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

The yearlong initiative, which kicks off in January, was created to support investigative journalism at local and regional news organizations, particularly in cities with populations below 1 million. ProPublica will reimburse the newsrooms for salary for the selected reporters and provide extensive support and guidance for their stories.

Winners were selected from a pool of 239 applications from 45 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The projects selected by editors should surprise and probe deeply, with the potential to spur positive change. Topics covered, among others, will include conflicts of interest, housing, mental health care, criminal justice and workplace safety. The selected newsrooms and reporters are:

The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) – Rebekah Allen

Charleston Gazette-Mail (Charleston, W. Va.) – Ken Ward, Jr.

Malheur Enterprise (Vale, Ore.) – Jayme Fraser

Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) – Rebecca Moss

South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) – Christian Sheckler

The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Ill.) – Molly Parker

WMFE (Orlando, Fla.) – Abe Aboraya

Participants in the ProPublica Local Reporting Network will work in and report to their home newsrooms while collaborating with ProPublica senior editor Charles Ornstein. ProPublica’s expertise with data, research and engagement will be available for their stories as well. The stories will be jointly published by their news organizations and ProPublica.

“This project was started to give local newsrooms across America needed resources and support to execute investigative journalism that digs deep and holds power to account,” Ornstein said. “The powerful proposals from our inaugural group of reporters are very much in that spirit, and I look forward to working with them to help bring their stories to fruition over the next year.”

MORE: Who are the seven reporters who will work with ProPublica?