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2023 IRE training collaborations, improving journalism together

IRE is proud to be one of many journalism associations working to educate, empower and connect journalists across the globe. We believe the field of journalism is stronger when we work together and learn from each other.

So this year, our organization has renewed its focus on exchanging perspectives and expertise with other journalism associations. In addition to our own conferences, bootcamps and training programs, the IRE team has trained at six partner conferences so far in 2023, with six more coming up before the end of the year.

“As much as we love having people come to our events, we know as an organization it's critical that we also get out to other journalism association events to build relationships and exchange ideas and perspectives,” IRE Director of Diversity and Inclusion Francisco Vara-Orta said. “That in turn helps enrich what we do for our members and, we hope, for theirs as well.”

Along with Executive Director Diana Fuentes, Vara-Orta has led IRE’s strategy to engage with a wide range of organizations — with special focus on those that serve journalists of color and other historically marginalized groups.

In June, IRE board member and former training director Mark Walker served as a faculty member and mentor in the Maynard Institute for Journalism’s Maynard 200 Fellowship program in Fort Worth, Texas.

IRE Executive Director Diana Fuentes and IRE Director of Diversity & Inclusion Francisco Vara-Orta pose for a photo at NAHJ's 2022 conference.
IRE Executive Director Diana Fuentes and IRE Director of Diversity & Inclusion Francisco Vara-Orta pose for a photo at NAHJ's 2022 conference.
IRE training directors Adam Rhodes and Laura Moscoso pause for a selfie before a training session they hosted at NAHJ's 2023 conference.
IRE training directors Adam Rhodes and Laura Moscoso pause for a selfie before a training session they hosted at NAHJ's 2023 conference.

In July, Vara-Orta attended the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference in Miami with IRE training directors Adam Rhodes and Laura Moscoso. Vara-Orta took part in panels on mental health support for queer colleagues, in partnership with NAHJ’s LGBTQ+ task force, and education coverage, in partnership with the Education Writers Association (EWA). Rhodes and Moscoso presented five training sessions in English and Spanish on topics such as FOIA requests, accountability interviews and hands-on data journalism training.

The following week, Fuentes attended the Asian American Journalists Association conference in Washington, D.C, conducting a training session on accessing public data.

In August, Fuentes will attend the NABJ Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, with Walker, who will present two sessions on investigative and data journalism. Vara-Orta will travel to Winnipeg, Canada, to take part in a panel on freedom of information requests at NAJA’s National Native Media Conference. Meanwhile, Rhodes will attend NLGJA’s 2023 National Convention in Philadelphia to offer an introduction to investigative reporting and public records.

Our training outreach efforts also extend to organizations that focus on particular beats. Earlier this year, Vara-Orta offered training on source diversity at the EWA conference in Atlanta. IRE Senior Training Director Liz Lucas also presented an introduction to data journalism at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in St. Louis.

Coming up, Lucas and Fuentes will attend the Global Investigative Journalism Network conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, where Lucas will offer five training sessions on data journalism. Fuentes will also attend the Online News Association conference in Philadelphia and the Society of Professional Journalists convention in Las Vegas, where she will provide FOIA training. And in October, Rhodes will travel to the Military Veterans in Journalism Convention in New York City to offer training on public records and an introduction to investigative reporting.

We attend and train at journalism conferences as budget and staff availability allow, and join forces with partner organizations to present webinars and regional events. But of course, we can’t be everywhere at once.

When we can’t attend events ourselves, we invite our fellow journalism organizations to collaborate with us on panels in their area of expertise at IRE conferences.

At this year’s IRE conference in Orlando, we worked with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to develop several sessions on public records and media law. We also partnered with the National Center on Disability and Journalism to present a session on developing a disability beat. Both organizations helped organize the panels and sent speakers of their own to the conference. We also collaborated with the Global Investigative Journalism Network on a session highlighting the best international investigations of the year.

More partner programming is in the works for AccessFest, our virtual-by-design conference coming up October 12-14, 2023. We’re working with EWA on two sessions covering disparities and inequities in higher education and k-12 schools. Plus, our friends at Factchequeado will present a session in both English and Spanish examining whether non-English speaking communities in the U.S. are more vulnerable to mis- and disinformation than English speakers. See more expected sessions for AccessFest23.

Connections like these make the journalism community stronger than ever, and help all of us better serve our members and the communities they cover. If you are involved with other journalism organizations and have ideas for collaborations or partnerships with IRE, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a note at or contact Director of Diversity & Inclusion Francisco Vara-Orta directly at

IRE also offers customized in-person and online training for newsrooms. You can decide which skills your staff needs to sharpen, and we will put together a training schedule to help you reach your goals — from building a watchdog culture and effectively using databases to source diversity and inclusive newsroom practices. Learn more about our custom training or submit a request online.

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