A major new resource for journalists is available online for the first time. IRE contest questionnaires provide road maps to how many of the best investigative projects of the past three decades were done.

IRE members can now digitally search more than 15,000 of these valuable guides.

Each questionnaire provides detail on how projects, entered into the IRE Awards and later the Phil Meyer Awards, were done. Each one includes lists of sources, documents and data; advice to those who’d like to try similar work themselves, detail on any CAR analysis done, and much more.

The collection — which has previously only been available by request through IRE’s Resource Center — is now online thanks to James “Jay” Hamilton, Professor of Public Policy at Duke University.

Hamilton is currently working on a book that will use statistics and ideas from economics to explore the last 100 years of investigative reporting in the US. Hamilton says of the project: “In reading IRE publications from the 1980’s, I came to realize that reporters had to fill out questionnaires to participate in IRE’s annual contests. When I found out that you had the questionnaires in paper form, I was happy to sponsor their conversion to a digital format so that others could use the questionnaires to see how investigative reporters have pursued their story ideas in many different areas.”

In addition to providing an unmatched resource for reporters, the collection documents more than 30 years of the history of accountability journalism.

“IRE has wanted to make these vital documents more accessible to journalists for many years,” IRE Executive Director Mark Horvit said. “Thanks to Jay Hamilton’s generosity and vision, all journalists, and journalism educators, now have an unparalleled resource instantly available.”

IRE also has a large collection of investigative projects in our Resource Center. In many cases, the questionnaires match up with stories in that collection. The stories themselves are not available online but can be requested from our resource center. To order any of the stories call 573-882-3364 or email us at rescntr@ire.org. IRE will be working on making the most recent stories available through the website in the coming months.

To view the questionnaires that were filled out by this year’s IRE Award winners and finalists go here. And, for the opportunity to learn how they did their work firsthand, join us in Boston this June for the annual IRE Conference, where most of the award winners will be speaking. Click here for all the conference details.

To find the questionnaires, go to our Resource Center page and search our story library. If you’re not an IRE member and you’d like to be able to access this collection and all of our resources please join now.

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