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2009 Fellowship Awards for Freelance Investigative Journalists

During an era when freelance investigative journalism is more vital than ever, IRE has awarded its second year of grants to freelancers. This year, IRE distributed $3,000 from the endowed fellowship fund.

A panel of three judges, all experienced investigative reporters who freelance, reviewed applications and selected the fellows.

The 2009 IRE Freelance Investigative Journalism Fellows, each of whom received a $1,000 award, are:

Jonathan Jones and Anna Sussman, founders of backpackjournalist.org, a collaborative international professional reporting project intended to generate stories of global interest from countries in the African Great Lakes region and the Great Rift Valley, the Indian subcontinent, and South East Asia.

Jones, currently a post-graduate fellow with Lowell Bergman’s investigative reporting program at the University of California, Berkeley, received the IRE fellowship in support of a narrative-book project about the history of Firestone’s rubber operations in Liberia.

Sussman, a full-time print, radio and TV freelance reporter, will apply the fellowship award to an investigative project entitled “U.S. Military Aid to Liberia Cause for Concern.”

Jim Walls, proprietor of Atlanta Unfiltered, LLC, a Monday-Friday news site, and former investigations editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Walls’ fellowship award is in support of the atlantaunfiltered.com Web site where Walls writes and publishes investigative stories of interest to the Atlanta region, posts public documents with investigative news value, and provides tutorials for journalists and citizens who would like to pursue similar investigations.

Steve Weinberg, contributing editor at The IRE Journal and former executive director of IRE, chaired the judging committee and said the fellowship program meets a pressing need.

“Many outlets that use in-depth reporting pay far too little for freelancers to complete their research and writing. Even the magazines, newspapers, broadcast outlets and Web sites paying at the top of the scale rarely cover everything,” Weinberg said. “That is why the money from IRE can be crucial to completion of a worthy project.”

Investigative journalists who earn their living as freelancers are eligible to apply for the fellowships. The annual postmark deadline for applications is April 30. For more information and instructions on how to apply, please contact IRE staff member John Green at (573) 882-2772 or visit IRE’s fellowship Web page: www.ire.org/training/fellowships.

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