IRE would like to thank and highlight the journalists who gave their time, energy and expertise to screen nearly 500 entries for the 2016 IRE Awards.

Each year, around mid-January, IRE receives hundreds of stories submitted in hopes of winning an IRE Award. In total, these entries consist of upwards of 100 hours of video footage and radio programs, pages upon pages of print and online stories, and countless combinations of multi-platform packages.

What makes the IRE Awards so special is the two-step screening process. This ensures that every entry, no matter how large or small, gets the thorough attention and time it deserves. Each of our 17 categories is reviewed by at least three screeners. These volunteer screeners spend countless nights, weekends, and lunch breaks combing through each and every entry to select the IRE Award finalists.

Once the finalists are selected, the contest committee, made up of members of the IRE Board and other elected and appointed investigative journalists, gets to work. The vetting process begins again, this time with judges evaluating only the top entries. The process culminates here in Columbia, Missouri this weekend, March 24-26, when the judges meet to discuss and pick the winners.

Without dozens of volunteer screeners and judges, IRE would be unable to run such a prestigious contest.

If you’re interested in becoming a screener or judge, contact Lauren Grandestaff at lauren@ire.org.