Impact is the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network’s primary measure of success. We prioritize stories that have the potential to bring about change.
In our first four years of operation, we have reported on topics ranging from Medicaid work requirements to public corruption scandals to the experience of young people in the Arkansas juvenile justice system. We've covered the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons, workplaces and hospitals. We've partnered with other news organizations large and small, from national outlets such as ProPublica to public radio and newspapers here in Arkansas.
Because ANNN does not rely on advertising revenue and does not have a full-time staff, we are not bound by a regular publication cycle. That means our writers and editors are able to approach each story or project methodically, affording our journalism greater depth and rigor. Here’s some of what we’ve accomplished.
In 2018, Arkansas became the first state in the country to implement a work requirement for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. Today, the work rule is gone, but the story of the state’s unusual approach to Medicaid expansion continues to develop.
Arkansas, unlike most Southern states, expanded its Medicaid program to cover low-income adults almost a decade ago, as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. As of early 2021, more than 300,000 Arkansans were insured through the program, with consequences for rural hospitals and other components of the health care system. ANNN will keep following the evolution of Arkansas Medicaid and other health policy issues that affect the lives of thousands of people in our state.
During the early months of the pandemic, ANNN and The Nation reported on the COVID-19 outbreak in Cummins Unit, an Arkansas prison which was the site of one of the largest clusters of disease in the country at that time. With support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, ANNN covered the unfolding crisis inside the state’s poultry plants, a major driver of infections and deaths within the Latino and Marshallese communities in Arkansas. ANNN also told the story of workers at a pet food manufacturer in Southeast Arkansas struggling to contain the spread of the virus.
In late 2020, as hospitalizations soared, we interviewed nurses and doctors on the front lines of the fight and reported on ICUs flooded with COVID patients. We also documented issues with the data used to guide the state’s public health decisions and have covered Arkansas’s vaccine rollout.
Economic hardship and criminal justice
In 2020, we partnered with ProPublica on an investigation into a unique Arkansas law that allows criminal prosecutions of tenants who have fallen behind on rent. ANNN followed the stories of people evicted during the pandemic, and we investigated chronic problems with the state’s pandemic unemployment assistance program. We are especially interested in the intersection of criminal justice and economic inequality. In 2020, we examined the financial barriers facing people convicted of a felony who seek to regain the right to vote, and in 2021 we began a project to report on disparities in arrests for minor marijuana crimes.
ANNN reporters and editors have years of experience reporting on the Arkansas Capitol. During the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions, we covered proposals affecting education, health care, taxation, housing and other areas of public policy. ANNN has also reported extensively on the sprawling public corruption scandal that ensnared multiple Arkansas legislators, a major health care provider and many others in recent years.
Juvenile justice and child welfare
In 2017 and 2018, ANNN investigated Arkansas’s troubled juvenile justice system, including allegations of abuse and the use of isolation at the state’s “treatment centers” for youth. The project followed the state’s takeover of the treatment centers from private operators and efforts to reform the juvenile justice system to make it less reliant on locking up young people. ANNN has also reported on foster care in Arkansas and other components of the child welfare system.