Spotlight PA’s high-impact journalism

Spotlight PA is dedicated to producing impactful, non­partisan investigative journalism about Pennsylvania government and urgent statewide issues. 

As an independent watchdog that fights for the truth, takes on the powerful to expose wrongdoing, and spurs meaningful reforms, Spotlight PA has produced a number of notable investigations and stories since its founding in 2019. Spotlight PA also partners with PA Post to deliver day-to-day coverage and keep Pennsylvanians informed. 

This work has had notable impacts in the state of Pennsylvania and has earned a number of awards from various professional organizations, including the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Real impact on Pennsylvanians

Spotlight PA’s journalism aims to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians, highlighting governmental missteps and creating pathways for reform.

In a 2021 investigation, Spotlight PA uncovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor overcharged unemployed Pennsylvanians millions of dollars for a decade. In direct response to this reporting, the state refunded $19 million to 109,000 people

After the report’s release, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration concluded the issue was due to “human error” and lack of oversight. 

A 2019 into the Pennsylvania State Police found that the department stopped collecting data on the race of drivers its troopers pull over, making it difficult to detect instances of racial profiling. The department stopped collecting this data in 2012 and failed to notify the public, nor did it plan to reinstitute the practice in response to nationwide attention on race and policing in recent years. 

Only after Spotlight PA’s report went public did the Pennsylvania State Police announce it would resume the practice

Nationwide partnerships

Spotlight PA distributes its journalism to more than 80 partner organizations around Pennsylvania and it frequently collaborates directly with local and national publications, strengthening its work and boosting its reach. In 2021, Spotlight PA partnered with NBC News on an investigation into the State Police shooting of Christian Hall, a Chinese American teenager in the Poconos. Spotlight PA obtained unredacted video for the first time — showing the teen had his hands up when fatally shot — which has prompted a new wave of attention on the case. The story was picked up by The Washington Post and USA Today, and the Monroe County NAACP has called for an independent investigation.

National Awards

At Risk, In the Dark – Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Online News Association
Fundamental Flaws – Best Investigative Journalism Prize, Institute for Nonprofit News
The Hidden Tab – FOI Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors

Statewide Awards

Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association

  • 2022: 10 awards, including the Public Service Award
  • 2021: 5 awards, including the Public Service Award and Reader Initiative Award

 Society of Professional Journalists’ Keystone Pro Chapter

Award-winning reporting

Since its founding in 2019, Spotlight PA has won a number of awards in statewide and national competitions recognizing its investigative work and commitment to public service-journalism.