Combination photo of Sophie Austin, Melissa Hellmann and Amy DiPierro

Inside Public Integrity

Published — August 17, 2021

Melissa Hellmann, Amy DiPierro and Sophie Austin join Public Integrity staff

Sophie Austin, Melissa Hellmann and Amy DiPierro


Three journalists will join the staff of the Center for Public Integrity this fall and contribute to the nonprofit news organization’s investigative reporting on the causes and effects of inequality in the United States.

Melissa Hellmann will start Aug. 24 as a reporter covering racial, gender and economic inequality. As a reporter for the Seattle Times, she has covered marginalized communities, artificial intelligence, including bias in facial recognition systems, and the changing landscape of labor. She previously worked for Seattle Weekly, the Associated Press, YES! Magazine, TIME Asia, and SF Weekly.

Her investigations have taken her to the homes of migrant families on the outskirts of Beijing to write about child trafficking; Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank to report on global surveillance; and a Tacoma, Washington, detention center where detainees alleged their medical needs were ignored. She is president of the Seattle Association of Black Journalists, which she helped restart after several years of dormancy. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Sophie Austin will join Public Integrity Sept. 2 as an American University fellow. She is wrapping up a local news internship this summer with The Dallas Morning News, where her reporting included coverage of high lead and arsenic levels in a suburban community. She previously interned at PolitiFact and has freelanced for The DC Line, a nonprofit covering local news in Washington, D.C. She also completed a Dow Jones News Fund data journalism residency with Investigative Reporters and Editors instructors. She’s originally from Cincinnati.

Amy DiPierro will join Public Integrity Sept. 27 as a data journalist. She previously reported for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California, and BusinessDen in Denver, Colorado. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Stanford University, where she was a Knight-Hennessy Scholar and a fellow at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation. She was a contributor to the project “Nowhere to Go,” which was honored with a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Public Integrity is one of the oldest nonprofit investigative news organizations in the country, founded by Charles Lewis in 1989 with a mission of “inspiring change using investigative reporting that exposes betrayals of the public trust by powerful interests.” It is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization that does not accept advertising and does not charge readers for its journalism.

Public Integrity’s reporting has led to hundreds of law and policy changes, has forced the federal and state governments to release information critical to the public interest, has held corporations to account for abuses of power, and has been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards.

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