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Lee bolsters investigative efforts with 12-person Public Service team

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Lee Enterprises, parent company of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is shining an investigative reporting spotlight across its 77 daily news markets throughout the country.

Lee recently announced its new 12-member Public Service Journalism team, which is comprised of veteran reporters who will function as three teams across the company’s East, Midwest and West news regions, respectively.

The investigative reporting roles are newly created positions intended to drive public accountability journalism throughout Lee’s local news markets, including The Times-Dispatch.

“The creation of our Public Service Journalism team strengthens our company’s commitment to investigative and data journalism, because it’s the work that can truly make a difference in the communities we serve,” said Jason Adrians, Lee Enterprises’ vice president-local news. “At Lee Enterprises, we’re investing in local news talent and tools, premium reporting and storytelling, and the development of young journalists.”

Lee’s new Public Service Journalism team members bring expertise in various topical backgrounds, including public safety, public health, government, social justice and the environment.

The regional Public Service Journalism teams will assist reporters in local markets with access to public records, track taxpayer money and government spending, examine data related to health, crime and safety issues, and serve as watchdogs for communities across the country. In their previous reporting roles both inside Lee newsrooms and in other news markets, these team members’ work has helped free the innocent, put the guilty behind bars and change laws.

The teams include a Pulitzer Prize finalist; three members of the nationally renowned ProPublica Local Reporting Network; a grant recipient from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; a Edward R. Murrow Regional Award winner; top national award recipients from Investigative Reporters and Editors and the national Society of Professional Journalists; and a data journalism specialist and former reporter and researcher for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Better Government Association in Chicago.

Work by these teams has already begun, with in-depth reporting on leading causes of death throughout more than a dozen Lee markets publishing in recent weeks and a recently published investigation, in partnership with ProPublica, on a systemic pattern of abuse and mistreatment of mental health patients in a state-run facility in Illinois.