This week, Beacon announced its new partnership with non-profit newsroom ProPublica to improve coverage of workers’ compensation across the United States. The journalism crowdfunding platform has already shown its commitment to funding underreported stories. Through this new partnership, Beacon will not only be able to provide financial support to journalists, but also valuable reporting tools, including data and sources, thanks to ProPublica.
Why Workers’ Comp?
As part of its ongoing investigation, Insult to Injury, ProPublica found that 33 states have recently changed their workers’ comp laws to either reduce benefits, create hurdles to receiving medical care, or make it harder to qualify for workers’ comp. It’s an issue that has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of workers; more than 3.7 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported in 2013. And, with no federal oversight of workers’ comp laws, policies vary greatly from state to state, making it difficult for journalists to cover effectively.
“There’s a huge discrepancy that happens from state to state,” said Keren Goldshlager, project manager at Beacon. “We know there are talented local reporters in every state, and we can use Beacon’s platform to fill in some of those [reporting] gaps and get more stories told.”
How It Works
The Beacon-ProPublica partnership invites journalists to use their existing resources to help document the impact of workers’ comp reductions across the country. Independent journalists or local news organizations can fill in the reporting gaps by acting as the eyes and ears on a city or state level. Here’s how you can get started:
- Identify a story idea: ProPublica has already asked people to tell them their experiences navigating workers’ comp claims, with more than 300 people sharing stories so far. These stories, combined with its state-by-state research and detailed benefits data, will help regional journalist dig into the story. ProPublica has also put together a Reporting Recipe which includes a database of new workers’ comp provisions and other useful information.
- Find a source: Get matched with workers who have been affected in your region.
- Submit your pitch: Beacon’s platform gives journalists the tools they need to fund their work by connecting directly with readers. Hundreds of journalists have already used Beacon to fund their work on issues ranging from net neutrality to climate change. Like these stories, workers’ comp law has a big potential impact, and backers will respond accordingly. In your pitch, explain the idea you’re pursing and then launch your crowdfunding campaign to start raising funds. Not sure how to get started? Check out this tutorial. If you add the tag “Workers’ Comp” to your pitch, Beacon will add $250 in matching funds for any ProPublica-based pitches.
- Send your story: Once successfully funded and reported, send your story to Beacon and ProPublica.
Meg Dalton (@megdalts) is the associate editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab.