The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer-winning nonprofit media organization covering criminal justice, is excited to announce the launch of its first local news operation, in Cleveland.
The Marshall Project – Cleveland aims to expose abuses in Cuyahoga County’s criminal justice system, through investigative, data and community engagement journalism supported by The Marshall Project’s national newsroom. The Cleveland news operation will serve local audiences, including people directly affected by the criminal justice system, who are often neglected or mischaracterized in media coverage. The newsroom plans to distribute its work inside prisons and jails in Ohio, too.
The Marshall Project’s commitment to building exceptional investigative, data and engagement journalism in Cleveland is grounded in its stellar leadership team, including veteran journalist Jim Crutchfield, recently named editor-in-chief, and managing editor, local, Marlon A. Walker, who is overseeing the local network expansion.
“Cleveland is one of our country’s richest cities in terms of history and culture, but also a city where the criminal justice system clearly needs to be further examined,” Walker said. “We have assembled a team of talented, dedicated journalists who will report rigorously on local issues.”
The newsroom’s roster of award-winning journalists includes some with deep ties to the Cleveland area, including:
Stan Donaldson Jr. joins The Marshall Project as a staff writer and will lead Cleveland community engagement reporting efforts. He spent a decade in newsrooms, including The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, where he won several awards for his reporting. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Donaldson joins The Marshall Project from his alma mater, Norfolk State University, where he has served as the director of media relations and the president’s speechwriter.
Cid Standifer joins The Marshall Project as staff writer. She has more than a decade of newsroom experience, and has written for The Plain Dealer, Belt Magazine, Cleveland Scene, Eye on Ohio and The Washington Post. Prior to moving to Cleveland, she covered the military for Stars and Stripes, Military Times, Inside the Navy and USNI News. Standifer has a master's degree in African history from Emory University and a bachelor's degree in history and physics from Grinnell College.
Mark Puente will lead investigations as a staff writer for the Cleveland operation. Puente, a former truck driver, has nearly 20 years in journalism and an outstanding track record in accountability reporting. He has worked for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, The Tampa Bay Times and The Los Angeles Times. Puente’s investigative reporting in Cleveland forced former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald T. McFaul to resign and plead guilty to various crimes in 2010. Puente, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, joined The Marshall Project on June 6.
“Our group of outstanding reporters will be equipped with the invaluable resources and knowledge of The Marshall Project’s award-winning national newsroom, while based here in Cleveland, where they are committed to covering criminal justice that serves the local community in Cuyahoga County,” Crutchfield said.
“We're thrilled to have these superb journalists join The Marshall Project,” said Susan Chira, The Marshall Project’s editor-in-chief. “As we expand our local accountability journalism in Cleveland, Jim, Mark, Cid, and Stan will bring a depth of investigative reporting expertise to ensure our first local newsroom publishes top-quality journalism that has an impact on Cleveland’s criminal justice system.”
The Marshall Project’s Cleveland operation is committed to community outreach and getting journalism behind bars in Ohio. As with Testify, our investigation into Cuyahoga County’s court system, we will survey residents to understand what they need to know about their system and incorporate their perspectives. The Marshall Project also distributes News Inside, an award-winning print publication, in more than 770 prisons and jails across the United States. To round out our Cleveland news operation, we will be hiring an Outreach Manager who will continue to expand the distribution of this magazine and its accompanying video series, Inside Story, in Ohio prisons and jails.
The Marshall Project – Cleveland is made possible through the support of the American Journalism Project, the George Gund Foundation, the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Marshall Project founding board member Fred Cummings, and others.