ProPublica Attempts to Connect Struggling Homeowners, Local Journalists

Allow us to make an introduction: Homeowners, local journalists. Local journalists, homeowners. We’d like to set you up.

Those words are the introduction to an effort by ProPublica — which describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest” — to connect local journalists with struggling homeowners for stories.

ProPublica said in an email shortly before this post that since posting the page at 2:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 40 reporters had already signed up to be paired up with homeowners. From the site, Reporting Matchmaker: Setting Up Home Loan Modification Applicants with Local Journalists:

Since last May, nearly 800 struggling homeowners from all over the country have shared their stories with ProPublica about their efforts to get a loan modification through the federal program. With their help, we showed the incredible delays and frustrations applicants typically face: Mortgage servicers have repeatedly lost documents, misinformed homeowners, and denied modifications for reasons that run contrary to the program’s guidelines. Among the 1.1 million homeowners who’ve begun the program’s trial stage, which is supposed to last three months, hundreds of thousands have waited in limbo for six months or more.

We’re calling our service ProPublica’s Reporting Matchmaker. Here’s how it’ll work.

Struggling homeowners, share your stories with us and give us permission to share your email or phone number (or both) with a local journalist. Once you do that, a pushpin representing you will be added to our map. Your contact information will not be published on the Web nor shared without your permission.

Journalists, sign up here and we’ll put you in contact with struggling homeowners in your area who want to talk with local journalists. A quick look at our map will show you whether we’ve currently got a match. We’ll let you know if someone in your area wants to speak with a local journalist.

The service is free. All that we ask of the local journalists is that they cite and link to ProPublica in their story and send it along to our reporter, Paul Kiel, to make sure we catch it.