Frequently asked questions

Q: What is Spotlight PA?

A: Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan and statewide newsroom dedicated to producing investigative journalism about Pennsylvania government — with a particular focus on how it’s spending your tax dollars — and significant statewide issues that matter to communities in all corners of the state. The project is led by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PennLive/The Patriot-News.

Q: What is Spotlight PA’s mission?

A: The mission of Spotlight PA is to hold powerful private and public forces in Pennsylvania — especially governments, businesses and special interests — to account through urgent and compelling investigative journalism that drives change and strengthens our democracy, the state and all who live here.

Q: Why was Spotlight PA created?

A: Aggressive reporting on Pennsylvania’s state government has withered as newsrooms have faced financial pressure and cut back on coverage. With its team of seven talented reporters, Spotlight PA is the single largest expansion of the statehouse reporting corps in recent history.

Q: What does Spotlight PA cover?

A: Spotlight PA’s reporters are assigned to cover the state government’s many departments, agencies and commissions, as well as significant local and regional issues that cut across political and geographic boundaries. Their goal is to produce digital-first journalism that drives change.

Q: Why should I support Spotlight PA?

A: High-quality investigative and accountability journalism takes a lot of time and resources, and it’s critical to holding our elected officials and those in power responsible for their actions. Too often, however, it’s pushed aside because of financial struggles and budgetary constraints. We aim to fill the void in a bold way, but we need your support to keep doing this important work.

Q: How do I support Spotlight PA?

A: You can make a donation to Spotlight PA here. If you would like to send a check or discuss other ways to support our mission, contact joanna@spotlightpa.org.

Q: How do I change a recurring donation or update my credit card?

A: Please contact joanna@spotlightpa.org and we’ll be happy to help.

Q: Is my donation tax deductible?

A: Yes.

Q: What is “digital-first journalism”?

A: Digital-first journalism means we make all of our editorial decisions based on the best way to reach modern-day readers online and in the forms and formats they like most for consuming news. While some of our stories will take the traditional, narrative form, we’ll seek to innovate using data and visual tools to create new, interesting and engaging storytelling forms. And we won’t be afraid to experiment.

Q: How does Spotlight PA measure its success?

A: Spotlight PA measures success based on its ability to produce original accountability journalism, engage readers and communities across the state — especially in areas underserved by the media — spark conversation and drive meaningful change.

Q: What makes Spotlight PA different from other news organizations?

A: Spotlight PA is the largest newsroom dedicated to covering the state government and significant statewide issues, and the only newsroom in the state focused solely on investigative and accountability reporting. We are grant-funded, and that allows us to make all of our decisions based on the best way to inform and engage you, our reader, as opposed to page views, visitors, ad impressions or other business-related metrics.

Q: Where is Spotlight PA based?

A: Our office in Harrisburg is located at 225 Market St., Suite 502A, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

Q: How frequently will Spotlight PA publish content?

A: Our publishing decisions are based on what’s best for the stories we want to tell and the readers we serve, and are not dictated by the need to fill a newspaper or website. We expect to initially publish content on a weekly basis as our reporters get oriented and establish their beats.

Q: Where does Spotlight PA’s work appear?

A: All Spotlight PA stories appear on our website, spotlightpa.org. Spotlight PA stories also appear in The Philadelphia Inquirer / Inquirer.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / post-gazette.com and The Patriot-News / PennLive.com, as well as across a growing network of other Pennsylvania news organizations.

Q: Will Spotlight PA share its content with other news organizations?

A: Yes, we want our content to reach as many people in Pennsylvania as possible. We will provide stories free of charge to news organizations across the state. To become a distribution partner, please contact joanna@spotlightpa.org.

Q: Does Spotlight PA charge for its content?

A: Spotlight PA content will be a valuable addition to the news and product offerings of our founding partners, each of which operate subscription models to support their award-winning journalism. Our content will first be available through them, and then, after a time delay, will be available free of charge at spotlightpa.org and through our other distribution partners.

Q: Who are Spotlight PA’s reporters?

A: Meet Spotlight PA’s team of award-winning investigative reporters.

Q: How can I securely send a tip to Spotlight PA?

A: There are many ways to send tips to the Spotlight PA team.

Q: What makes Spotlight PA’s model for journalism unique?

A: Spotlight PA is a unique startup model marrying the best of non-profit journalism with the established audience and credibility of long-standing and respected news organizations, removing many of the barriers that an entirely new, start-up nonprofit would face.

Q: Who funds Spotlight PA?

A: Spotlight PA is a grant-funded newsroom with the support of readers like you and: Laura and John Arnold; The Erie Community Foundation; Donald McCormick Fund of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities; Good Words Foundation; The Heinz Endowments; Henry L. Hillman Foundation; Lancaster Community Foundation; H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest; The Lenfest Institute for Journalism; The Philadelphia Foundation; The Lois Tack Thompson Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation; Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust; The Steinman Foundation; Wyncote Foundation; and York County Community Foundation. You can read more about our supporters here.

Q: Is Spotlight PA a 501©(3) nonprofit organization?

A: Spotlight PA is a collaborative project and is not a legal entity. It operates under the 501©(3) status of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which is the nonprofit owner of The Inquirer. All donations are given to the Lenfest Institute and directed to Spotlight PA’s important investigative work.

Q: How does Spotlight PA prevent funder interference?

A: All funders acknowledge that they receive nothing in return for their support and have no influence over our newsroom or its editorial policies or direction. In addition, the Lenfest Institute provides an additional buffer between funders and our newsroom.

Q: Does Spotlight PA accept anonymous donations?

A: No. We’re committed to fully disclosing all of our sources of funding. We cannot expect transparency from government without practicing transparency ourselves.

Q: How do I stay updated on Spotlight PA’s work?

A: You can sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Investigator, here.

Q: How do I pitch an idea to Spotlight PA?

A: Pitches can be sent to our editor in chief at cbaxter@spotlightpa.org.

Q: How do I contact Spotlight PA reporters?

A: Check out the contact information for all Spotlight PA reporters.

Q: What is Spotlight PA’s corrections policy?

A: We strive to be thorough and accurate in our reporting, and we freely and transparently correct all errors of fact. If you believe we’ve made an error, contact cbaxter@spotlightpa.org.