Propublica offering diversity scholarships for students to attend 2020 journalism conferences

If you or someone you know is a US-based student interested in attending conferences such as Investigative Reporters and Editors, The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, or National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, then you should consider applying for Propublica's Diversity Scholarship program, which offers $750 bursaries "to students who would otherwise be unable to attend," especially "people of color, women, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities." Read the rest

Howto: file your taxes for free without getting defrauded into paying a big tax-prep firm

When the IRS proposed providing free, pre-completed tax-returns to US taxpayers, the big tax-prep companies like Intuit/Turbotax and HR Block lobbied like crazy to kill the plan, and instead proposed "Free File," through which they would provide free online tax-prep services for people with incomes of $69k or lower. Read the rest

VICTORY! New Free File rules ban tax-prep firms from hiding their offerings, allow IRS to compete with them (a love-letter to Propublica)

Six months ago, Propublica began beating the drum about "Free File," a bizarre, corrupt arrangement between the IRS and the country's largest tax-prep firms that ended up costing the poorest people in America millions and millions of dollars, every single year. Read the rest

Illinois schools don't just lock special ed kids in solitary, they also restrain them

Last month, Propublica published a characteristically blockbuster piece on the use of "quiet rooms" in Illinois schools, especially in special ed programs: these are a euphemism for solitary confinement, and their use is so cruel and grotesque that Propublica's reporting prompted state level action to ban quiet rooms in schools and reform the policy on their use. Read the rest

Quiet Rooms: Illinois schools lead the nation in imprisoning very young, disabled children in isolation chambers

20 years ago, Illinois was rocked by a scandal after the widespread practice of locking schoolchildren, especially those with disabilities or special needs, in small, confining boxes was revealed. The teachers who imprisoned these children argued that they did so out of the interests of safety -- that of the imprisoned students, of the other students, and of school staff. Read the rest

Search the databases of Trump political appointees' resumes and discover their undisclosed conflicts of interest

Property of the People and Propublica used the Trumptown database of Trump's political appointees and the Freedom of Information Act to pull the appointees' resumes (chock full o' data that doesn't appear on their financial disclosure forms) and put them in a searchable database. Read the rest

Facebook forced to drop "feature" that let advertisers block black people, old people and women

It's illegal to discriminate based on "protected classes," including "men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps" but from the earliest days of its self-serve ad platform, Facebook gave advertisers the ability to exclude people from ads for jobs, financial products, housing and other necessities based on these categories. Read the rest

What it's like to be a reporter under cyberattack

Propublica's Julia Angwin (previoulsy) is one of the most fearless, effective investigative journalists reporting on technology; last August, she was subjected to brutal, crude, devastating cyberattacks after the publication of an article she worked on that outed tech companies, ad brokers and payment processors for helping extremists "monetize hate," acting as paymasters for neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and genocidal racists. Read the rest

Leaked Facebook docs: weird censorship standards that protect "white men but not black children"

Facebook is not responsible for bad speech by its users -- section 230 of the US Telecommunications Act says that libel and other forms of prohibited speech are the responsibility of users, not those who provide forums for users to communicate in -- but it takes voluntary steps to try to keep its service from being a hostile environment for its users, paying 4,500 moderators to delete material the company deems unacceptable. Read the rest