IRE strives to reflect diversity and inclusion in all of its efforts and offerings. A diverse membership strengthens IRE, helps sustain our future, and produces higher-quality journalism across the country and around the world. United, we thrive as journalists, educators and students. United, we better serve our communities and our world.
In 2019, IRE started collecting more data on the racial makeup of its membership. We found that of those who answered, at least 13 percent identified as a person of color. One year later, that number has risen to at least 22 percent of IRE membership. Some members decline to provide race/ethnicity information, so the number may be higher.
Initiatives fostering diversity and inclusion at IRE include:
New in 2019, the yearlong IRE Journalist of Color Investigative Reporting fellowship provides immersive IRE training, resources and a mentor network. Fellows remain in their newsroom and produce an investigative story/package. The program is funded by individual donations as well as organizations including ABC News, CNN, ESPN, Gray Television and Hearst Foundations.
New in 2020, the program offers investigative and data training for journalism educators and students, with special opportunities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI). In addition, new data journalism bootcamps offer college educators hands-on skills plus strategies for teaching.
A special diversity and inclusion issue of The IRE Journal magazine is available for free as a public service to the news industry and the country. The 42-page magazine features articles and columns by journalists of color, with extensive coverage of industry challenges and opportunities.
IRE weaves in examples of culturally competent reporting throughout our training materials. In the wake of the racial reckoning in 2020, we also developed a presentation on the urgency of creating a more inclusive newsroom. The 90-minute training session was developed, vetted, and led by our members and trainers from historically marginalized backgrounds. In it, we provide concrete steps that newsrooms can take to foster an environment that benefits journalists as well as the public.
We also have offered more accessible training such as webinars on diversity and inclusion, including our best attended session of our 2020 webinar series during the COVID-19 era. You can still view that free session online
; IRE membership is not required.
Journalists of color comprised 30 percent of speakers and trainers at the most recent annual NICAR and IRE national conferences. Women comprised half of speakers at the NICAR data journalism conference and 59 percent of speakers at the IRE national investigative journalism conference. IRE typically features more than 350 speakers and trainers for each conference. In addition, IRE regularly features a diverse slate of speakers at its regional Watchdog Workshops and online training.
For several years, IRE has collaborated on training and other programs with journalism organizations that serve diverse memberships. Partners include the Asian American Journalists Association, Ida B. Wells Society, Maynard Institute, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association and NLGJA (The Association of LGBTQ Journalists).
Opportunities for women and journalists of color cover some or all of the cost of attending an annual conference or data bootcamp. Application deadlines vary throughout the year.
Cheryl W. Thompson is IRE’s first African-American board president, serving in that leadership role since 2018. Three other Black journalists serve on the 13-member elected board, including Vice President Mark Rochester. All board committees include journalists of color. In addition, journalists of color comprised about a third of the regional planning committees for the most recent NICAR and IRE national conferences. Of the seven judges for the 2019 IRE Awards, three were journalists of color and five were women. One of IRE’s five full-time trainers is Latino.