A project by Samantha Hogan, who was hired as The Maine Monitor’s first full-time reporter in 2019 and has established herself as one of the state’s top investigative reporters, won “honorable mention” recognition for investigative reporting in a contest conducted by the national Institute for Nonprofit News.
Only three media outlets in the U.S., competing in the Monitor’s medium size category, received such acclaim.
The Monitor and Hogan were recognized for our year-long, 2020 investigation into the Maine judicial system’s approach to defending indigent people charged with crimes.
The project included multiple follow-up reports this year and spurred state legislators to demand changes to the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services.
Hogan, working with ProPublica data reporter Agnel Philip, uncovered a system in which more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct wound up being contracted as lawyers for the poor.
Attorneys convicted of sex crimes and felonies were among the most severe infractions overlooked in the state’s indigent defense system. Maine is the only state in the nation without full-time, government-employed public defenders.
“Being honored by INN for this project is a testament to the power of legitimate and nonpartisan, independent reporting,” said Dan Dinsmore, editor emeritus at The Maine Monitor. “Without Samantha Hogan’s reporting and the Monitor’s commitment to taking the time to produce this work, this is a system that would still be operating in ways that are detrimental to the citizens of the state.
“Samantha’s reporting shined such a significant light on Maine’s lackluster system of public defense. This is reporting with impact, reporting that leads to significant change, which we’ve already seen because of these stories.”
Dinsmore hired Hogan in 2019 and played a coordinating and editing role in the Defenseless project. He now holds a leadership position with Spectrum News Maine.
INN supports more than 300 non-profit newsrooms in the U.S. that are dedicated to non-partisan, public service journalism. The Maine Monitor is a member of INN. The Monitor fits into INN’s “medium sized” media outlet category.
The winning entry in the Monitor’s award category came from the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), and was titled, “Three Bullets to the Back.” It investigated a police shooting of an unarmed man in Colorado in 2020.
The other honorable mention award went to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, and exposed poor public health conditions at a Midwest pork processing plant during the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
Hogan is a Report for America corps reporter, as are her three full-time colleagues, who comprise most of the Monitor’s reporting staff.