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Every year IRE holds several different types of contests. Some have cash prizes while others honor dedication to (and against) freedom of information. Contact the contest coordinator, Doug Meigs, with any questions.

The 2023 IRE Awards are now closed.


Award Programs

The 2023 IRE Awards contest is closed. The deadline to enter was Friday, January 12, 2024.

The IRE Awards is the annual contest of Investigative Reporters and Editors recognizing the best in investigative reporting by print, broadcast and online media.

After judging, all entries are placed in IRE’s Resource Center story library so that IRE members may learn from others’ triumphs and troubles. The contest helps identify techniques and resources used by the entrants.


get more information

The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism, and the Knight Chair at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and IRE are proud to present the Philip Meyer Journalism Award, a contest that recognizes the best journalism done using social research methods.

The awards are in honor of Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of Precision Journalism, the seminal 1972 book (and subsequent editions) that focused growing numbers of journalists on the idea of using social science methods to produce better journalism. He pioneered using survey research as a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers to explore the causes of race riots in the 1960s.

Three awards are given annually — a first, second and third place — to recognize the best work using techniques that are part of precision journalism, computer-assisted reporting and social science research. 

The contest also helps identify the techniques and resources used to complete each story. Entries are placed in the IRE Resource Center, allowing members to learn from each other.

About the 2023 Contest

Please visit our contest FAQ for more information.

  • The contest deadline was Nov. 10, 2023.
  • All work must have been published, aired or posted between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023.
  • Awards will be presented during the 2024 NICAR Conference.

What can I enter?

For ideas on what you can enter, watch this video to hear Jennifer LaFleur, then of Reveal for The Center for Investigative Reporting; David Donald (deceased), then of the Investigative Reporting Workshop; and Tom Hargrove, then of the Scripps Howard News Service, discuss best practices for great data reporting.

Golden Padlock Award

In 2013 Investigative Reporters and Editors launched a new award — dubbed the Golden Padlock — recognizing the most secretive publicly funded agency or person in the United States.

“The practice of secrecy within governments has been elevated into high art,” said Robert Cribb, chair of the Golden Padlock committee. “This award brings well-deserved recognition to those who have distinguished themselves with ingenious creativity in denying the public’s right to know.”

Governments at all levels – from local to federal – are eligible for the award. The “honor” is handed out annually at IRE’s national conference.

Nominate an Agency or Official

Use the button below to nominate an agency or official. You will be asked to provide the name of the agency or individual along with reasons and/or media coverage detailing the intransigence.

Don Bolles Medal

Established in 2017, the Don Bolles Medal recognizes investigative journalists who have exhibited extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance.

The medal was created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Arizona Project, an effort led by IRE to finish the work of Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic investigative reporter who was killed in 1976 by a car bomb.

Bolles’ death came a few days before the first national IRE conference in Indianapolis, where the veteran reporter had been scheduled to speak on a panel.

At the time, Bolles had been investigating allegations of land fraud involving prominent politicians and individuals with ties to organized crime.

After his murder, nearly 40 journalists from across the country descended on Arizona to complete his investigation. News organizations across the country published their findings. Their message: Even if you kill a reporter, you can’t kill the story.

Nominate a Journalist

Use the button below to nominate a journalist. You will be asked to provide your name, affiliation and contact information, as well as details about the nominee: A link(s) to their work and brief description of why this person merits the medal.

NOMINATE and view honorees
IRE Ring of Honor

In 2022, IRE established the Ring of Honor, a new initiative celebrating members who have made a significant contribution to the organization and to investigative journalism.

Nominations to the Ring of Honor can be made in tribute to current or retired IRE members or in memoriam to deceased members.

It’s a great way for a group of people to thank a friend or colleague for their service while also paying it forward by raising money to help others.

Nominate and View Honorees
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