The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project is an Emmy nominated nonprofit, online journalism organization focusing on issues related to criminal justice in the United States, founded by former hedge fund manager Neil Barsky and with former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller as its first editor-in-chief.[1][2][3][4][5] Its website states that it aims to "create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system."[1] The organization's name honors Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP's civil rights activist and attorney whose arguments won the landmark U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education, who later became the first African-American justice of that Court.[6]


The Marshall Project began as an idea of Neil Barsky, a former hedge-fund manager, in November 2013. When writing an op-ed in The New York Times, Barsky thought it might be a good opportunity to plug the idea, so he included a brief description of the project and the website URL in his byline.[7][8] Within a few weeks, he was contacted by several criminal justice organizations that offered funding support. In February 2014, The New York Times reported that Bill Keller, who had been executive editor at The New York Times from July 2003 to September 2011, was going to work for the Marshall Project.[8][9]

The Marshall Project publishes journalistic and opinion pieces on its own website, and also collaborates with news organizations and magazines to publish investigations. Its first two investigations were published in August 2014 (on its own website and in The Washington Post together) and in October 2014 (on its own website and in Slate).[5][10] It also publishes a weekly feature called "Life Inside," where people who work or live in the criminal justice system tell their stories in first-person essays.[11] Until October 2018, Life Inside was co-published with VICE.[12]

The project officially launched in November 2014.[3][4][10] Its first editor-in-chief was former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.[2][4] The outlet's reporting in its first five years garnered it a Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards, with reporting focused on various issues, including prison abuse and rape, privatized prisons, and the treatment of incarcerated youth and mentally ill people.[13] Keller retired in 2019 and was succeeded as editor-in-chief by Susan Chira.[13][14]

Organization and funding

As of October 2018, The Marshall Project had a staff of 37, with eight additional contributing writers, five of whom are currently incarcerated.[15]

The Marshall Project is funded by donations and grants from foundations and individuals.[16] In July 2014, Capital New York quoted Barsky as saying that the project would have an annual budget of $5 million, the budget was close to half-committed for the first two years, including three major institutional commitments that Barsky declined to specify, plus individual donors including himself.[17] In November 2014, The Huffington Post reported that Barsky was responsible for 20% of the project's funding.[3]

As of May 2017, the foundations and individuals listed on the website as supporters include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles K. Edmondson, Jr. Foundation, Ford Foundation, David Greenspan, the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Neil Barsky and Joan S. Davidson Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Family Fund, and Timothy and Michele Barakett Foundation.[18]

Critical reception

Joe Pompeo wrote of The Marshall Project that it had had a great start due to a mix of good initial publicity and association with high-profile names.[8]

The Marshall Project has also been identified as part of a new and experimental non-profit journalism format.[2][17] It has been compared with the non-profit ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, InsideClimate News, and The Texas Tribune,[5][17] and also with recent for-profit journalistic experiments such as Vox and FiveThirtyEight.[2]

The Marshall Project has also been praised for its timely launch given current bipartisan interest in criminal justice reform in the United States.[5]

The Marshall Project has been compared with the Innocence Project, but distinguishes itself because its focus is not merely on innocent people ensnared by the criminal justice system but also on guilty people whose rights to due process, fair trial, and proportionate punishment are violated.[3]

Awards and honors

In 2016, The Marshall Project and partner ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for "An Unbelievable Story of Rape"[19] described as "a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement's enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims",[20] as well as a George Polk Award for the same piece.[21] In 2019, this piece was adapted into the Netflix series Unbelievable.[22]

In 2017, The Marshall Project won a National Magazine Award for general excellence in the category of Literature, Science and Politics. This was the website's first National Magazine Award.[23]

Also in 2017, The Marshall Project was named as a collaborator (alongside ProPublica) when This American Life won a Peabody Award for "Anatomy of Doubt".[24]

In 2018, The Marshall Project was awarded a national Edward R. Murrow Award for "Overall Excellence" for a small digital newsroom.[25] It also won the award for General Excellence in Online Journalism from Online News Association.[26] Its 2017 documentary series "We Are Witnesses"[27] was nominated for the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Award.[28] Its 2019 installment of the "We Are Witnesses" series was nominated for the 41st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Award for "Outstanding New Approaches" in the documentary category.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mission Statement". The Marshall Project. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Ellis, Justin (February 10, 2014). "Bill Keller, The Marshall Project, and making single-focus nonprofit news sites work. The former New York Times executive editor explains why he's jumping to a nonprofit news organization focused on criminal justice issues". Nieman Lab. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Calderone, Michael (November 16, 2014). "The Marshall Project Aims Spotlight On 'Abysmal Status' Of Criminal Justice". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Marshall Project Kicks Off With Look at Legal Delays". The New York Times. November 16, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Doctor, Ken (February 12, 2015). "Newsonomics: Bill Keller's Marshall Project finds its legs covering criminal justice. The Marshall Project is trying to get beyond the narrow newsroom focus on "cops and courts" and tackle the bigger systemic issues". Newsonomics. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  6. ^ "Why The "Marshall" Project?". The Marshall Project. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Barsky, Neil (November 15, 2013). "Chill Out, 1 Percenters". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Pompeo, Joe (July 1, 2014). "The Marshall Project's charmed launch". Capital New York. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (February 9, 2014). "Bill Keller, Former Editor of The Times, Is Leaving for News Nonprofit". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "The Marshall Project to launch in November". Capital New York. October 23, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  11. ^ "Life Inside". The Marshall Project. Retrieved Jul 18, 2019.
  12. ^ "Life Inside". Vice. Retrieved Jul 18, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Zainab Sultan, Exit Interview: Bill Keller on his time at The Marshall Project, Columbia Journalism Review (April 1, 2019).
  14. ^ Bill Keller to retire from The Marshall Project, The Marshall Project (November 1, 2018).
  15. ^ "Our People". The Marshall Project. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  16. ^ "Funders". The Marshall Project. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  17. ^ a b c Pompeo, Joe (July 1, 2014). "Journalism's Nonprofit Surge". Capital New York. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  18. ^ "Our Supporters". The Marshall Project. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  19. ^ "An Unbelievable Story of Rape". The Marshall Project. 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2017-05-14.
  20. ^ "The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Explanatory Reporting". Pulitzer Prize. April 18, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Marshall Project Wins Polk Award for 'An Unbelievable Story of Rape'". The Marshall Project. February 14, 2016.
  22. ^ Colburn, Randall (July 18, 2019). "Netflix unveils trailer for Unbelievable, a limited series based on Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting". The A.V. Club.
  23. ^ "The Marshall Project Wins a National Magazine Award", The Marshall Project (February 7, 2017).
  24. ^ "This American Life: Anatomy of Doubt". Retrieved 2017-05-14.
  25. ^ "RTDNA Announces 2018 National Edward R. Murrow Awards". Retrieved Jul 18, 2019.
  26. ^ "2018 Online Journalism Awards Finalists". Retrieved Jul 18, 2019.
  27. ^ "We are Witnesses". The Marshall Project. Retrieved 2018-10-25.

External links